“I’m Dwight’s official rabbi,” said Gary Smith as he humorously opened the “Celebration” of Dwight Hemion’s life at the Directors Guild on March 28. “He was my older brother,” Smith continued — they’d worked together for 45 years and “hundreds of shows.” Gary then proceeded to emcee a magnificent, non-stop unspooling of an unmatchable career — and life. And several of the hundreds of artists and stars who will soon have their own DGA tributes were on hand to testify to the artistry of Hemion. First to be called upon by Smith was Julie Andrews, the subject of several Smith-Hemion shows who reminded that “specials were the best things on television. They were ‘specials’ because he was so special.” It was most obvious in a clip with Julie in “The Sounds of Christmas,” which was lensed in Austria and one of Hemion’s 18 Emmy winners.
A hysterical sequence with Steve Allen had the DGA audience rolling in the aisles and Steve Lawrence was on hand to reveal how Hemion’s unique eye helped create genius television. Hemion spent the last five years assembling his favorites — shown in abbreviated form at the tribute. The clips included Walter Miller, Martin Baker, Allan Kartun, Dency Nelson and Gene Crowe. Family was represented by Gus Hemion, Kate Hemion and Mali Bowers. The stars on the screen and in the audience included Ann-Margaret, Roger Smith and Jack Jones. The incredible cast lists of Hemion’s Specials are classic and the 87 minutes Dwight edited as a grand finale proves once more how special he was.