William L. Schaefer, 81, who was executive assistant to Jack L. Warner for 45 years, died April 19 in Woodland Hills, Calif., of cancer.
Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Schaefer moved to California with his family in 1929. Unable to find a job after graduating from U. of California at Los Angeles in the Depression years, he enrolled in secretarial school and received a degree in business arts.
He began working for Jack Warner, the head of Warner Bros. Studios, in 1933, becoming involved in virtually all the filmmaking and administrative activities on the WB lot.
After the lot was sold in 1968, Schaefer accompanied Warner to Beverly Hills, where he continued to work for him until the latter’s death in 1978.
Schaefer became a storehouse of knowledge about the Warner legacy. He was a special guest at Warner Bros.’ 1989 Celebration of Tradition, prompting a standing ovation from another Warner alumnus, former President Ronald Reagan.
Most recently, Schaefer was involved in creating an oral history of the early years of Warner Bros., tape-recording personal recollections by Warner staff members who had served in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. He also was working with studio execs on a film about the history of Warner Bros.
Active in organizing the Warner Bros. Retirees Club, he served as the group’s president for three years and continued on the board until his death.
Survived by his wife, Margaret, a daughter, a son and three grandchildren.