Casting director worked on 'Splash,' 'Spaceballs'

Casting director Bill Shepard, who cast films such as “Splash,” “Spaceballs” and “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” died Sept. 20 of a heart attack in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 79.

A native of Los Angeles, Shepard served in the U.S. Navy before launching his career in the entertainment industry. Following a stint as an usher at CBS, he began a 30-year career at the Walt Disney Studios.

After leaving Disney in 1984, he served as casting director on four films directed by Mel Brooks — “Spaceballs,” “Life Stinks,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.”

“He not only found stars and big players that helped make the pictures successful, but he also was a genius at finding the right featured players and smaller character roles that gave my movies depth and reality,” said Brooks in a statement.

He started at Disney in 1954 as a clerk in the editing department, and went on to work in publicity, before settling into his role as senior casting assistant, and later casting director. At Disney, Shepard was involved in casting such films as Tim Burton’s live-action directing debut, “Frankenweenie,” “My Science Project,” “Herbie Goes Bananas,” “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark,” “The Devil and Max Devlin,” “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.”

Shepard was responsible for giving Michael J. Fox his first feature film role in the 1980 Disney-produced film, “Midnight Madness.”

He is survived by two daughters, a sister and four granddaughters.

Donations may be made to the City of Hope, The Motion Picture & Television Fund or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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