Though he also directed the Ronald Reagan feature Bedtime for Bonzo and the Elvis Presley film Frankie and Johnny, de Cordova is remembered best for his two-decade career as a multiple-Emmy-winning producer and director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
After earning his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University, he graduated from Harvard Law School. Instead of becoming an attorney, however, he spent a decade directing professional New York stage productions.
He grew up in New York City as the child of George de Cordova and Margaret Timmins de Cordova. His marriage to Janet Thomas lasted from 1963 until his death in 2001.
He began his television career in the early 1950s as a director of The Jack Benny Program.