Garson Kanin


Director, Screenwriter
Garson Kanin

About

Birth Place
Rochester, New York, USA
Born
November 24, 1912
Died
March 13, 1999
Cause of Death
Heart Failure

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 ...

Photos & Videos

A Man to Remember - Scene Stills
A Man to Remember - Lobby Cards
A Man to Remember - Movie Posters

Family & Companions

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

Bibliography

"Cordelia?"
Garson Kanin, Arbor House (1982)
"Smash"
Garson Kanin, Viking (1980)
"Moviola"
Garson Kanin, Simon & Schuster (1979)
"It Takes a Long Time to Become Young"
Garson Kanin (1978)

Notes

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

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 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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
Director
Where It's At (1969)
Director
The True Glory (1945)
Director
Fellow Americans (1942)
Director
Tom, Dick and Harry (1941)
Director
They Knew What They Wanted (1940)
Director
My Favorite Wife (1940)
Director
Bachelor Mother (1939)
Director
The Great Man Votes (1939)
Director
Next Time I Marry (1938)
Director
A Man to Remember (1938)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)

Writer (Feature Film)

Born Yesterday (1993)
Play As Source Material
Hardhat and Legs (1980)
Screenplay
Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
Screenwriter
Where It's At (1969)
Screenwriter
The Rat Race (1960)
Screenwriter
High Time (1960)
Based on a Story by
The Girl Can't Help It (1956)
Story
It Should Happen to You (1954)
Story and Screenplay
Pat and Mike (1952)
Writer
The Marrying Kind (1952)
Writer
Adam's Rib (1949)
Screenwriter
A Double Life (1948)
Writer
From This Day Forward (1946)
Adaptation

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993)
Archival Footage
Moviola: This Year's Blonde (1980)
Source Material (From Novel)
The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980)
Source Material (From Novel)
Moviola: The Silent Lovers (1980)
Source Material (From Novel)

Director (Special)

Born Yesterday (1956)
Director

Cast (Special)

Mia Farrow: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
You're the Top: The Cole Porter Story (1990)
An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner (1989)
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1988)
Performer
Cary Grant: The Leading Man (1988)

Writer (Special)

Born Yesterday (1956)
Screenwriter
Born Yesterday (1956)
Play As Source Material ("Born Yesterday")

Special Thanks (Special)

Born Yesterday (1956)
Screenwriter
Born Yesterday (1956)
Play As Source Material ("Born Yesterday")

Life Events

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

1942

Did uncredited work on the screenplay for "Woman of the Year"; credited to Kanin's brother Michael and Ring Lardner Jr

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"

Photo Collections

A Man to Remember - Scene Stills
Here are a number of scene stills from the RKO film A Man to Remember (1938), directed by Garson Kanin and starring Edward Ellis and Anne Shirley.
A Man to Remember - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from RKO's A Man to Remember (1938). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
A Man to Remember - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters from RKO's A Man to Remember (1938), directed by Garson Kanin.
A Man to Remember - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken during production of RKO's A Man to Remember (1938), directed by Garson Kanin and starring Edward Ellis and Anne Shirley.
A Man to Remember - British Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for the British release of RKO's A Man to Remember (1938). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
A Man to Remember - Glass Slide
Here is a Glass Slide for the RKO film A Man to Remember (1938), starring Edward Ellis and Anne Shirley. Glass slides were used by many theaters to promote coming attractions during slide shows between movie screenings.
A Man to Remember - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for the American release of RKO's A Man to Remember (1938). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
(Pressbook images courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

Videos

Movie Clip

Bachelor Mother (1939) - Pay The Fiddler, Man! Department store scion David (David Niven) ambushes employee Polly (Ginger Rogers), just home from a dance contest, whom he wrongly thinks is the mother of a baby left in his custody, causing her to change tactics on the fly, early in RKO's Bachelor Mother, 1939.
Great Man Votes, The (1939) - Your Liquor Or My Lucre 27-year old Garson Kanin directs John Barrymore, then 52, whom he fought to get in the role, with Luis Alberni, who’s not really the milkman, with a brief appearance by second-billed MGM child star Virginia Weidler, on loan to RKO, opening The Great Man Votes, 1939.
Great Man Votes, The (1939) - Pop's Only Speaking Metagorical Our first scene in the Vance the household, where John Barrymore is “Pop,” , a usually drunk but apparently erudite night watchman in a nameless Prohibition-era city, and Peter Holden and Virginia Weidler are introduced as his precocious children, in The Great Man Votes, 1939, directed by Garson Kanin.
Great Man Votes, The (1939) - The Color Of Thy Giblets! We’re still figuring out the background of “Pop” Vance (John Barrymore), a drunken, widowed and brainy night watchman, whose son and daughter have gotten into some scrapes at school, when their teacher (Katharine Alexander as Miss Billow) visits, revealing new angles, in RKO’s The Great Man Votes, 1939, directed by Garson Kanin.
Bachelor Mother (1939) - Women And Things Merlin (Charles Coburn), owner of the department store that just dismissed holiday-employee Ginger Rogers, and his heir (David Niven) are introduced, while the head of the foundling home (Ernest Truex), who believes she abandoned her baby, follows, in Bachelor Mother, 1939.
Bachelor Mother (1939) - I Want A New Duck! Department store heir David Merlin (David Niven) is under-cover, attempting to prove to employee Polly (Ginger Rogers) that it’s easy to return a defective product, disaster ensuing, Fred (Frank Albertson) making things worse, Garson Kanin directing, in Bachelor Mother, 1939.
Bachelor Mother (1939) - There Isn't Any Mother Just given-notice Christmas department store clerk Polly (Ginger Rogers, in her first post-Fred Astaire picture) is looking for work when she sees some lady abandon a baby, the folks at the foundling home (Frank Thomas, Edna Holland) immediately suspicious, in Bachelor Mother, 1939.
Adam's Rib (1949) - My Dear Husband What amounts to a gritty, Manhattan opening by director George Cukor and writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, Judy Holliday hunting down husband Tom Ewell and bimbo Jean Hagen, in the 1949 Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn hit, Adam's Rib.
Marrying Kind, The (1952) - It's A Dead One George Cukor's opening, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin's original script emphasizing candor over comedy, married Florence (Judy Holliday) and Chet (Aldo Ray) under the sway of Judge Carroll (Madge Kennedy), in The Marrying Kind, 1952.
Marrying Kind, The (1952) - Don't Remember No Rhumba Recounting for the divorce judge, Florence (Judy Holliday) and Chet (Aldo Ray) not agreeing about a party at her sister's and a trip to the airport, fancy sound editing, in The Marrying Kind, 1952, directed by George Cukor.
Marrying Kind, The (1952) - You Take Most People Just after her Atlantic City honeymoon, Florence (Judy Holliday) hosts friend Emily (Peggy Cass), her mother (Phyllis Povah) and affluent sister (Sheila Bond) in her Manhattan apartment, in The Marrying Kind, 1952, from Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin's original screenplay.
Next Time I Marry (1938) - My Wife Lives In Buffalo Opening scene, Garson Kanin directing Lucille Ball in one of her first top-billed roles, as madcap heiress Nancy who invites WPA ditch-digger "Tony" Anthony (James Ellison) to get married, in the RKO B-comedy Next Time I Marry, 1938.

Trailer

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941) -- Original Trailer From RK0, the original theatrical trailer for the follow-up to Ginger Rogers’ Academy Award winning performance in Kitty Foyle, the comedy Tom, Dick And Harry, 1941, starring Ginger, Alan Marshal, George Murphy, and Burgess Meredith.
Born Yesterday (1950) - Inspecting Your Wing Crooked titan Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) blowing into D.C., girlfriend Billie (Judy Holliday), reporter Verrall (William Holden) and hotel concierge (Grandon Rhodes) also introduced, opening George Cukor's Born Yesterday, 1950.
Bachelor Mother - (Re-issue Trailer) Ginger Rogers is a fun-loving shop girl who is mistaken for the mother of a foundling in Bachelor Mother (1939) co-starring David Niven.
Rat Race, The - (Original Trailer) A musician (Tony Curtis) newly arrived in New York takes in a taxi dancer (Debbie Reynolds) in the drama The Rat Race (1960).
Pat and Mike (animated trailer) Romance blooms between a female athlete (Katharine Hepburn) and her manager (Spencer Tracy) in Pat and Mike (1952).
Marrying Kind, The - (Original Trailer) A divorcing couple (Judy Holliday, Aldo Ray) reflect on what led them to court in George Cukor's comedy/drama The Marrying Kind (1952).
It Should Happen to You - (Original Trailer) A dizzy model (Judy Holliday) in love with fame rents a billboard and puts her name on it in It Should Happen to You (1954) co-starring Jack Lemmon.
My Favorite Wife - (Original Trailer) Seven years after his wife's disappearance, Cary Grant gets re-married. Guess who shows up for the honeymoon? Find out in My Favorite Wife (1940).
Girl Can't Help It, The - (Original Trailer) A gangster sets out to turn his girlfriend into a rock star in The Girl Can't Help It (1956).

Family

David M Kanin
Father
Sadie Kanin
Mother
Michael Kanin
Brother
Screenwriter. Born in 1910; died in 1993.
Fay Kanin
Sister-In-Law
Screenwriter. Born in 1917.
Ruth Kanin
Sister
Survived him.

Companions

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

Bibliography

"Cordelia?"
Garson Kanin, Arbor House (1982)
"Smash"
Garson Kanin, Viking (1980)
"Moviola"
Garson Kanin, Simon & Schuster (1979)
"It Takes a Long Time to Become Young"
Garson Kanin (1978)
"One Hell of an Actor"
Garson Kanin, Harper & Row (1977)
"Hollywood: Stars and Starlets, Tycoons and Flesh-Peddlers, Moviemakers and Moneymakers, Frauds and Geniuses, Hopefuls and Has-Beens, Great Lovers and Sex Symbols"
Garson Kanin, Viking (1974)
"A Thousand Summers"
Garson Kanin, Doubleday (1973)
"Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir"
Garson Kanin (1971)
"Cast of Characters"
Garson Kanin, Atheneum (1969)
"Remembering Mr. Maugham"
Garson Kanin, Atheneum (1966)
"Blow Up a Stream"
Garson Kanin, Random House (1959)

Notes

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