William L. Schaefer; Assistant to Jack L. Warner

William L. Schaefer, who served as movie mogul Jack L. Warner’s executive assistant for 45 years, has died in a Woodland Hills hospital. He was 81.

A resident of Sherman Oaks, Schaefer died Friday of cancer, said his wife, Margaret Schaefer.

Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Schaefer came to California in 1929. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA, but, unable to find a job because of the Depression, he enrolled in a secretarial school and received a degree in business arts. In 1933, he began working as executive assistant to Jack L. Warner, the head of production for Warner Bros. Studios. Schaefer left the Warner lot after its sale in 1967 and continued working with Warner, who became an independent producer, until Warner’s death in 1979.

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 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He was also working with studio executives on a film about the history of Warner Bros.


Schaefer was also active in the Warner Bros. Retirees Club, serving as president for three years and continuing on the board of directors until his death.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years; son Ralph Schaefer of Oroville, Calif.; daughter Karen Tait of Malibu, and three grandchildren.

Services will be private. The Neptune Society in Burbank is handling the arrangements. Donations can be made in Schaefer’s name to the USC Cinema Library, with which he was active, or to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.