Performing professionally and prolifically since 1947, William "Bill" Schallert was a familiar face to TV and film audiences when elected to the Guild presidency in 1979. From playing a literature teacher on The Dobie Gillis Show, to the father of future Guild president Patty Duke in The Patty Duke Show, to Agriculture Undersecretary "Nilz Baris" in the popular Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, Schallert worked steadily. His father was longtime drama editor for the Los Angeles Times, Edwin Schallert, and his mother, Elza Schallert, was a well-known journalist and radio commentator.
Bill Schallert was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors in 1974 and put his affinity for working with numbers and details to good use as chair of the Guild's Wages and Working Conditions Committee. He also advocated making Roberts Rules of Order the official guide to procedure for all Board meetings, which was approved. Although defeated for the office of first vice-president in the 1977 election, he so impressed his colleagues by his kindness, intelligence, and hard-working dedication to the Guild that he became the nominating committee's chosen candidate for president in 1979.
As president in 1980, it would be Schallert's misfortune to lead what would prove to be the Guild's longest, most acrimonious strike (until the Commercials Strike of 2000), beginning July 21: a Theatrical and Television Motion Picture Contract strike, known for years afterwards as simply "the 1980 strike." The difficult core issues concerned rates and residuals for Pay-TV, videocassettes and videodiscs. The strike's failures angered many and resulted in blame--fairly or unfairly--directed at those at the top, particularly President Schallert and the Guild's National Executive Secretary, Chet Migden. It also produced new impetus toward serious, committed discussion of merging the Guild with AFTRA, and Schallert became National Chairperson of the Coordinating/Merger Committee.
In 1981, Schallert was instrumental in convincing the Guild's Board of Directors to establish the committee for Performers with Disabilities. Although he would seek the presidency again that year, he would not be the nominating committee's choice: the committee selected Ed Asner, who had no previous experience as a board member or officer, forcing Schallert to run as an independent. Asner won the election, but Schallert was elected to a seat on the Board of Directors, receiving the highest number of votes for that category. Before the election, Chet Migden decided he would not seek to renew his contract, and departed at year's end to be replaced by Ken Orsatti as National Executive Secretary (a title soon changed to National Executive Director). In following years, Bill Schallert served as a Guild Vice-President and Treasurer, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors.