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Overview for Garson Kanin
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: Writer ... director screenwriter playwright comedian production assistant author saxophonist jazz clarinetist theater director actor


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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