Elia Kazan Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (32)  | Personal Quotes (20)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire [now Istanbul, Turkey]
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameElias Kazancioglu
Nicknames Gadg
The Actor's Director
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Known for his creative stage direction, Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazantzoglou on September 7, 1909 in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul, Turkey). Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He directed a string of successful films, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), and East of Eden (1955). During his career, he won two Oscars as Best Director and received an Honorary Oscar, won three Tony Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards.

His films were concerned with personal or social issues of special concern to him. Kazan writes, "I don't move unless I have some empathy with the basic theme." His first such "issue" film was Gentleman's Agreement (1947), with Gregory Peck, which dealt with anti-Semitism in America. It received 8 Oscar nominations and three wins, including Kazan's first for Best Director. It was followed by Pinky (1949), one of the first films in mainstream Hollywood to address racial prejudice against black people. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), an adaptation of the stage play which he had also directed, received 12 Oscar nominations, winning four, and was Marlon Brando's breakthrough role. In 1954, he directed On the Waterfront (1954), a film about union corruption on the New York harbor waterfront. In 1955, he directed John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955), which introduced James Dean to movie audiences.

A turning point in Kazan's career came with his testimony as a witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 at the time of the Hollywood blacklist, which brought him strong negative reactions from many liberal friends and colleagues. His testimony helped end the careers of former acting colleagues Morris Carnovsky and Art Smith, along with ending the work of playwright Clifford Odets. Kazan later justified his act by saying he took "only the more tolerable of two alternatives that were either way painful and wrong." Nearly a half-century later, his anti-Communist testimony continued to cause controversy. When Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1999, dozens of actors chose not to applaud as 250 demonstrators picketed the event.

Kazan influenced the films of the 1950s and 1960s with his provocative, issue-driven subjects. Director Stanley Kubrick called him, "without question, the best director we have in America, and capable of performing miracles with the actors he uses." On September 28, 2003, Elia Kazan died at age 94 of natural causes at his apartment in Manhattan, New York City. Martin Scorsese co-directed the documentary film A Letter to Elia (2010) as a personal tribute to Kazan.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Henry Willis

Family (3)

Spouse Frances Rudge (26 June 1982 - 28 September 2003)  (his death)
Barbara Loden (5 June 1967 - 5 September 1980)  (her death)  (1 child)
Molly Kazan (5 December 1932 - 14 December 1963)  (her death)  (4 children)
Children Nicholas Kazan
Chris Kazan
Relatives Zoe Kazan (grandchild)
Maya Kazan (grandchild)

Trade Mark (1)

Frequently cast Marlon Brando and Karl Malden

Trivia (32)

His selection for an Honorary Oscar angered many in the filmmaking community on account of his being among the first to cooperate with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1952, which led to the blacklisting that ruined many careers in Hollywood because of their political beliefs, and that Kazan had publicly stated that he had no regrets for that action. In response, there were loud protests against his selection for the award and some attendees of the awards ceremony, such as Nick Nolte and Ed Harris, stayed in their seats and refused to applaud when he received the award. However, others both stood and applauded Kazan, such as Warren Beatty, Meryl Streep, Helen Hunt, Karl Malden, Kurt Russell and Kathy Baker. Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese presented the honorary Oscar to Kazan.
Was Francis Ford Coppola's first choice for the role of Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II (1974), which went to Lee Strasberg.
Was the 1958 recipient of the Connor Award given by the brothers of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity based at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He was also an honorary brother of that fraternity.
Had four children with Molly Kazan: Judy Kazan, Chris Kazan, Nicholas Kazan and Katharine Kazan. Had two children with Barbara Loden: Leonard Kazan and Marco Kazan. Grandfather of Zoe Kazan.
Father-in-law of Robin Swicord.
Kennedy Center Honoree (1983).
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 503-510. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company (1988).
In 1956, Kazan received his third Tony Award nomination for Best Director. This nomination was for his directing the play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".
In 1958, Kazan received his fourth Tony Award nomination for Best Director. He was also nominated that same year in the category of Best Play along with co-producer Arnold Saint Subber. Both nominations were for the play "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs".
In 1958, Kazan won his third Tony Award for Best Director -- for the play ''J.B.''.
In 1960, Kazan he was nominated for his seventh Tony Award. This was his last nomination, and it was for the play "Sweet Bird of Youth".
Directed 21 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: James Dunn, Celeste Holm, Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, Anne Revere, Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Jo Van Fleet, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Mildred Dunnock and Natalie Wood. Dunn, Holm, Malden, Leigh, Hunter, Quinn, Brando, Saint and Van Fleet all won Oscars for their performances in Kazan films.
Screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who won an Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954), told Fox News (1987) in October 2003 that he had seen Kazan in September, just before his death at age 94. He claimed that Kazan was still complaining that Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century-Fox had passed on making "Waterfront".
According to Kazan, his first name was pronounced "l-EE-ah".
Attended acting class of Michael Chekhov in Hollywood.
Kazan won three Tony Awards for Best Director: for Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" (1947); for for Miller's "Death of a Salesman" (1949); and for Archibald Macleish's "J.B." (1959). He was also nominated for Tony Awards four other times: as Best Director, for Tennessee Williams's play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1956); as Best Director and co-producer of the Best Play nominee, William Inge's "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1958); and as Best Director (Dramatic) for Tennessee Williams's "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1960).
Founded the Actors' Studio along with Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis (1947).
Despite having had two cinematic successes with Tennessee Williams works A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Baby Doll (1956), Kazan did not direct the movie version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), although he won a Tony Award nomination as Best Director for staging Williams's Pulitizer Prize-winning play on Broadway. Richard Brooks directed the film. During the play's production, Kazan had had trouble with Williams, and Kazan eventually demanded that Williams rewrite the second act of the play to bring Big Daddy back on stage. Williams complied, but he had Big Daddy tell what Kazan felt was the equivalent of a dirty joke, possibly out of pique at Kazan.
Known to direct Method Actors, and was the only director to have worked with three of the earliest and most famous ones: James Dean, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. In addition to those three, he directed Robert De Niro in The Last Tycoon (1976).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6800 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 291-294. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale (2007).
In 1999, Gregory Peck supported the decision to give Elia Kazan an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, saying that he believed a man's work should be separate from his life.
Used to play handball with Harry Morgan.
Kazan directed four performers to Best Supporting Actress Oscars: Celeste Holm, Kim Hunter, Eva Marie Saint and Jo Van Fleet.
Sidney Lumet on Kazan: "What moves me most about his work is his pioneering spirit. Emotions, passions were put up on the screen. That Mediterranean release is responsible for a lot of what we're doing today.".
He directed two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On the Waterfront (1954).
Is one of four directors who have directed Academy Award winning performances in all four acting categories. The others being William Wyler, Hal Ashby and Martin Scorsese.
Attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut before moving to New York City.
Attended and graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts (1931).
He has directed eight films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), East of Eden (1955), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Wild River (1960) and America America (1963).
Of the three directors who directed James Dean in a starring role, Kazan is the only one who didn't direct a Jesus Christ biblical epic. Nicholas Ray directed King of Kings (1961) and George Stevens directed The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
His parents were Cappadocian Greeks, an ethnic Greek community that was native to the historical region of Cappadocia in central-eastern Anatolia, since antiquity. They were originally from the city of Kaisáreia; that after 1924 is called Kayseri, (Kayseri Province, Turkey).

Personal Quotes (20)

[on James Dean] Dean's body was very graphic; it was almost writhing in pain sometimes. He was very twisted, as if he were cringing all the time. Dean was a cripple anyway, inside--he was not like [Marlon Brando]. People compared them, but there was no similarity. He was a far, far sicker kid and Brando's not sick, he's just troubled.
[on Marlon Brando] To my way of thinking, his performance in On the Waterfront (1954) is the best male performance I've ever seen in my life.
[on Natalie Wood] The quality I remember about her was a kind of sweetness. When her persona fitted the role, you couldn't do better. She was it.
[on Marlon Brando] He was deeply rebellious against the bourgeois spirit, the over-ordering of life.
[on James Dean] He was sad and sulky. You kept expecting him to cry.
[on John Ford] Orson Welles was once asked which American directors most appealed to him. "The old masters," he replied. "By which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford." Well, I studied Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), for example. As I say, John Ford had a big influence on me.
[on Kirk Douglas] He fits into being an advertising man and a driving, ruthless person better than [Marlon Brando] could have. You would always suspect Brando. Kirk's awfully bright. He's as bright a person as I've met in the acting profession.
[on James Cagney] I learned something from Jimmy Cagney--he taught me quite a lot about acting. Jimmy taught me some things about being honest and not overdoing it. He even affected my work with [Marlon Brando] a little bit. I mean, "Don't show it, just do it."
[on Faye Dunaway] Faye carries a cloud of drama round with her. There is something in her at hazard.
[on working with Marlon Brando] Every word seemed not something memorized but the spontaneous expression of an inner experience--which is the level of work all actors strive to reach.
[on Marlon Brando's performance in On the Waterfront (1954)] If there is a better performance by a man in the history of film in America, I don't know what it is
[on Franchot Tone] He died before he should have and without fulfilling his promise or his hopes.
[of Charles Bickford] Men like that will eat a director alive, if he allows it.
Lee Strasberg was God almighty, he was always right, only he could tell if an actor had had it--the real thing--or not. To win Lee's favor and the reassurance it would convey was everyone's goal.
So it goes in America: great plans in youth, realism at the end.
[at the Group Theater, 1932] I think Franchot Tone takes pleasure in upsetting the chalice of high art here. You can't help admiring him. He's better educated, just plain smarter, than most of the others and has greater curiosity about life and boldness in dealing with his desires. I like him. Perhaps some of the self-righteous members think of Tone as a sinner because he wakes the sinner in them... Meanwhile, he continues as the chink in their idealism. He does what he wants and isn't a bit docile. He believe in the Group idea but is not sure it's for him; he asks questions. Despite all, the directors admire him. He could burn the place down and still be the white-haired boy. He's the only really top-grade actor here--in my opinion--and that's the problem. I mean, that's their problem, the directors: how to hold people of his talent and temperament while they get rid of three or four duds they've got here who believe! Oh, how those mediocrities believe! Oh, how they listen to Lee Strasberg and nod and smile at his quips. Me, too.
Fredric March was as warmhearted and genuine a man as ever lived... Poor, blacklisted Freddie was no more a Communist than my cat.
[on the labored introspection demanded of students in Actors Studio workshops] There have been days when I felt like I would swap them all for a gang of wandering players who could dance and sing, and who were, above all else, entertainers.
[on the possibility of casting Paul Newman as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954)] This boy will definitely be a film star. He's just as good looking as [Marlon Brando] and his masculinity, which is strong, is also more actual. He's not as good an actor as Brando yet, and probably will never be. But he's a darn good actor with plenty of power, plenty of insides, plenty of sex.
[from a letter to John Steinbeck, while casting East of Eden (1955)] I looked through a lot of kids before settling on this [James Dean]. He hasn't [Marlon Brando]'s stature, but he's a good deal younger and is very interesting, has balls and eccentricity and a "real problem" somewhere in his guts, I don't know what or where. He's a little bit of a bum, but he's a real good actor and I think he's the best of a poor field. Most kids who become actors at 19 or 20 or 21 are very callow and strictly from NY professional school. Dean has got a real mean streak and a real sweet streak.

Salary (1)

On the Waterfront (1954) $100,000 plus 25% of the box office.

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