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Garson Kanin

Garson Kanin

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Also Known As: Died: March 13, 1999
Born: November 24, 1912 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Rochester, New York, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, playwright, comedian, production assistant, author, saxophonist, jazz clarinetist, theater director, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A highly competent, witty playwright, screenwriter and director, Garson Kanin is perhaps best-remembered for his 1945 Broadway smash "Born Yesterday" and for the scenarios he wrote for others, especially George Cukor.The Rochester, NY, native dropped out of high school in 1929 and worked in vaudeville as a musician and comic. After training at NYC's American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he made his Broadway acting debut in "Little Ol' Boy" (1934), directed by George Abbott. Kanin left acting to serve as Abbott's production assistant, working on "Room Service" (1937), among others. He moved to directing with 1937's "Hitch Your Wagon" which landed him a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. Feeling frustrated, Kanin moved to RKO where he helmed charming comedies like the Ginger Rogers' vehicles "Bachelor Mother" (1939) and "Tom, Dick and Harry" (1941) as well as "My Favorite Wife" (1940), with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and the third version of "They Knew What They Wanted" (also 1940), with Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton.While serving in the US Army during WWII, Kanin helmed documentary shorts including "Fellow Americans", "Ring of Steel" and "Night Shift" (all 1942), "Salute to France" (1944), co-directed...

A highly competent, witty playwright, screenwriter and director, Garson Kanin is perhaps best-remembered for his 1945 Broadway smash "Born Yesterday" and for the scenarios he wrote for others, especially George Cukor.

The Rochester, NY, native dropped out of high school in 1929 and worked in vaudeville as a musician and comic. After training at NYC's American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he made his Broadway acting debut in "Little Ol' Boy" (1934), directed by George Abbott. Kanin left acting to serve as Abbott's production assistant, working on "Room Service" (1937), among others. He moved to directing with 1937's "Hitch Your Wagon" which landed him a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. Feeling frustrated, Kanin moved to RKO where he helmed charming comedies like the Ginger Rogers' vehicles "Bachelor Mother" (1939) and "Tom, Dick and Harry" (1941) as well as "My Favorite Wife" (1940), with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and the third version of "They Knew What They Wanted" (also 1940), with Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton.

While serving in the US Army during WWII, Kanin helmed documentary shorts including "Fellow Americans", "Ring of Steel" and "Night Shift" (all 1942), "Salute to France" (1944), co-directed with Jean Renoir, and the award-winning "True Glory" (1945), co-directed with Carol Reed. During this same period, he began to make uncredited contributions to film script like "Woman of the Year" (1942), written by his brother Michael Kanin and Ring Lardner Jr. Kanin received his first screen credit on "From This Day Forward" (1946) and the following year co-wrote "A Double Life" with his wife Ruth Gordon (whom he had married in 1942). The latter, about an actor whose private life mirrors his onstage role, not only earned the couple their first Oscar nomination, but it also marked the first of several collaborations with George Cukor. Their next combined effort was the sublime Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn vehicle "Adam's Rib" (1949), which brought another Oscar nod for their scenario. Cukor also helmed Kanin's adaptation of his Broadway hit "Born Yesterday" (1950), which provided Judy Holliday with one of her best screen roles. Holliday was the star of the next Kanin-Gordon-Cukor effort, "The Marrying Kind" (1952). That same year, the trio again teamed with Tracy and Hepburn for the delightful "Pat and Mike" (1952). Subsequently, Kanin worked solo as Gordon concentrated more on her acting career. His last collaboration with Cukor was 1953's "It Should Happen to You". Other credits include "The Rat Race" (1960), adapted from his play, and his last two features to date, "Some Kind of Nut" and "Where It's At" (both 1969), both of which he also directed. He reteamed once more with Gordon for the teleplay "Hardhat and Legs" (CBS, 1980).

in addition to his stage and screen work, Kanin has written non-fiction ("Tracy and Hepburn" 1971; "It Takes a Long Time to Become Young" 1978), fiction ("A Thousand Summers" 1973; "Moviola" 1979) and articles on Thornton Wilder, Marc Connelly and Jerome Weidman. After Gordon's death in 1985, he married actress Marian Seldes.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Where It's At (1969) Director
2.
  Some Kind of a Nut (1969) Director
3.
  The True Glory (1945) Director
4.
  Fellow Americans (1942) Director
5.
  Tom, Dick and Harry (1941) Director
6.
  My Favorite Wife (1940) Director
7.
8.
  Bachelor Mother (1939) Director
9.
  The Great Man Votes (1939) Director
10.
  Next Time I Marry (1938) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
6.
 Cary Grant: The Leading Man (1988) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1929:
Dropped out of high school to work in vaudeville as a musician and comedian
1933:
Debut as an actor in the Broadway production "Little Ol' Boy"
1934:
Began working as assistant to director George Abbott
1936:
Last appearance as an actor, "Star Spangled"
1937:
Made debut as stage director with "Hitch Your Wagon"
1938:
Feature film debut as director, "A Man to Remember"
1938:
Put under contract at RKO
1941:
Served in the US Army Signal Corps
:
Promoted to sergeant in the US Army Air Force
1942:
Did uncredited work on the screenplay for "Woman of the Year"; credited to Kanin's brother Michael and Ring Lardner Jr
:
Was captain in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
1946:
First play produced on Broadway, "Born Yesterday"
1946:
Directed the stage play "Years Ago" by wife Ruth Gordon
1946:
First screenplay with Gordon, "A Double Life"
1956:
Adapted and co-directed TV production of "Born Yesterday"
1964:
Directed the Broadway musical "Funny Girl"
1969:
Last screenplay to date "Where It's At"; also directed
1978:
Final collaboration with Ruth Gordon, the teleplay for the TV-movie "Hard Hat and Legs"
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Education

James Madison High School: New York , New York -
American Academy of Dramatic Arts: New York , New York - 1932 - 1933

Notes

Kanin also directed such Broadway productions as "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "Funny Girl".

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ruth Gordon. Screenwriter, actor. Married from December 4, 1942 until her death in 1985; born in 1896.
wife:
Marian Seldes. Actor. Married from June 19, 1990 to his death in 1999.

Family close complete family listing

father:
David M Kanin.
mother:
Sadie Kanin.
brother:
Michael Kanin. Screenwriter. Born in 1910; died in 1993.
sister-in-law:
Fay Kanin. Screenwriter. Born in 1917.
sister:
Ruth Kanin. Survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Blow Up a Stream" Random House
"Remembering Mr. Maugham" Atheneum
"Cast of Characters" Atheneum
"Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir"
"A Thousand Summers" Doubleday
"Hollywood: Stars and Starlets, Tycoons and Flesh-Peddlers, Moviemakers and Moneymakers, Frauds and Geniuses, Hopefuls and Has-Beens, Great Lovers and Sex Symbols" Viking
"One Hell of an Actor" Harper & Row
"It Takes a Long Time to Become Young"
"Moviola" Simon & Schuster
"Smash" Viking
"Cordelia?" Arbor House
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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