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Garson Kanin

KANIN, GARSON (1912–1999), U.S. playwright and director. Kanin, born in Rochester, New York, became a Hollywood director for Samuel Goldwyn at 25. He directed John Barrymore in A Great Man Votes (1939) and Ginger Rogers in both Bachelor Mother (1939) and Tom, Dick and Harry (1941). After army service during World War II, Kanin was co-director, with Sir Carol Reed, of The True Story (1945). The film was about the Allied victory, and it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Plays Kanin wrote that were performed on Broadway include The Smile of the World (1949), Rat Race (1950), The Live Wire (1950), A Gift of Time (1962), and Come on Strong (1962). He wrote and directed the Broadway hits Born Yesterday (1946) and Do Re Mi (based on his novella, 1960; Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Director). He also directed such Broadway productions as The Rugged Path (1945), Years Ago (1947), The Leading Lady (1948), The Diary of Anne Frank (1955, Tony nomination for Best Director), A Hole in the Head (1957), Sunday in New York (1962), and Funny Girl (1964). He produced and directed A Very Rich Woman (1965), written and acted by his author-actress wife Ruth Gordon.

In the realm of cinema, Kanin and Gordon co-authored such films as A Double Life (1947, Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay), Adam's Rib (1949, Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay), The Marrying Kind (1952), Pat and Mike (1952, Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay), and It Should Happento You (1954). In 1969 he wrote and directed the films Where It's At (based on his novel) and Some Kind of a Nut. In 1979 the couple co-wrote the TV movie Hardhat and Legs. In 1980, Kanin's novel Movieola (1979) was adapted into three separate made-for-TV movies: This Year's Blonde; The Scarlett O'Hara War; and The Silent Lovers.

Ruth Gordon died in 1985; Kanin married actress Marian Seldes in 1990. He was the brother of screenwriter Michael Kanin (1910–1993).

Among Garson Kanin's published works are Remembering Mr. Maugham (1966), Cast of Characters: Stories of Hollywood (1969), Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir (1971), the novel A Thousand Summers (1973), Hollywood (1974), the novels One Hell of an Actor (1977) and Smash (1980), Together Again: Stories of the Great Hollywood Teams (1981), and the novel Cordelia (1982).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.