Elia Kazan: Wikis


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Elia Kazan

Kazan before bookshelves at Brentano's book store, 1967
Born Elia Kazancioglu
September 7, 1909(1909-09-07)
Died September 28, 2003 (aged 94)
New York City, New York, US
Years active 1934-1976
Spouse(s) Molly Day Thatcher (1932-1963; her death)
Barbara Loden (1967-1980; her death)
Frances Rudge (1982-2003; his death)

Elia Kazan (English pronunciation: /iˈliːə kəˈzɑːn/; Greek: Ελία Καζάν, IPA: /iˈʎia kaˈzan/; September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was an American film and theatre director, film and theatrical producer, screenwriter, novelist and co-founder of the influential Actors Studio in New York in 1947. Kazan was a three-time Academy Award winner, a five-time Tony Award winner, a four-time Golden Globes winner, as well as a recipient of numerous awards and nominations in other prestigious festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.


Early life

Kazan was born Elias Kazancoglu (Greek: Ηλίας Καζαντζόγλου, Turkish: Elia Kazancıoğlu) in Istanbul to a Greek father from Kayseri, Turkey and a Greek mother from Istanbul, where her family were cotton merchants who imported cotton from Manchester, England, and sold it wholesale in Istanbul to various merchants, both Greek and Turkish, who took the goods out to the provinces. His family emigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in New York City, where his father, George Kazanjoglu, became a rug merchant. Kazan's father expected that his son would go into the family business, but his mother, Athena (née Sismanoglou),[1] encouraged Kazan to make his own decisions. His family name Kazanjoglou (or Kazantzoglou) is Turkish, meaning "son of a cauldron maker", where the root word kazan means "cauldron" or "boiler". It was and still is common to find people of Greek, Jewish, Assyrian, Armenian, and Kurdish lineage with Turkish family names or where the root words in the names are uniquely Turkish.

Kazan attended public schools in New York City and New Rochelle, New York. After graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts, Kazan studied at Yale University's School of Drama. In the 1930s, Kazan acted with New York's Group Theatre, alongside (among others) Lee Strasberg, Clifford Odets, and Stella and Luther Adler. During this period, Kazan earned his nickname 'Gadge' (short for 'Gadget,' from his Group Theater days, "for his willingness to do anything, from furniture repair to press agentry").[2] For about 19 months in 1934-36, Kazan was a member of a secret Communist cell.[3]




He became one of the most visible members of the New York elite. Kazan's stage acting credits include Men in White, Waiting for Lefty, Johnny Johnson, Golden Boy, and the 1940 revival of Liliom. Kazan directed A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), two of the plays that made Tennessee Williams a theatrical and literary force. He also directed All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman, (1949) the plays which did much the same for Arthur Miller. He received three Tony Awards, winning for All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and J.B.

Film director

Kazan won two Academy Awards for Best Director, for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On the Waterfront (1954). He elicited critically acclaimed performances from actors such as Marlon Brando and Oscar winners Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) (the film version of Tennessee Williams' play), James Dean and Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (adapted from the John Steinbeck novel), Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, and Jo Van Fleet in Wild River (1960), reportedly one of Kazan's favorite films, Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass and Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd.[4] Before he began directing films, however, he occasionally played supporting roles in them, one of those films being the 1941 Blues in the Night.

HUAC testimony

Kazan remained controversial in some circles until his death for testimony he gave before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1952, in which (after previously refusing to do so) he named associates from his days as a member of the Communist Party of the United States of America in the 1930s.[5] He began his career as an actor and stage manager for New York's Group Theatre Company, which was just recently established. His involvement in the group led him to join the "American Communist Party" in 1934. He was only involved with the Communist Party for a short time; however, he was quickly recognized as a potential communist by the HUAC, a group that was investigating the motion picture industry because of growing concern over communists working in the industry. A blacklist of names was being circulated, and those on the list could be in serious trouble and be denied work in the film industry again. The Committee called on people to identify others, and many refused; however, Kazan in his testimony named eight other members of the Communist Party, including some who had worked with him in The Group Theater; all the persons so named were already known to HUAC.[6]

Among the people Kazan named in his testimony were two individuals, Phoebe Brand and Tony Kraber, whom Kazan had himself recruited into the Communist Party in the 1930s. Others included actor Zero Mostel, who was blacklisted and unable to work for the rest of the 1950s.[7]

When Kazan received an Honorary Academy Award in 1999, surviving blacklistees, including Phoebe Brand, as well as some other actors, protested. Actress Kim Hunter, another subject of the blacklist, albeit one whose career recovered, stated that Kazan deserved the honor.[8] Kazan defended his actions long after the fact, writing, "I'd had every good reason to believe the party should be driven out of its many hiding places and into the light of scrutiny, but I'd never said anything because it would be called 'red-baiting.' [. . .] The `horrible, immoral thing' that I did I did out of my own true self."[5] Blacklisted director and former friend Jules Dassin refused to forgive Kazan, stating that Kazan lied about why he turned on his friends. In an interview with the French television program "Ciné-Parade", available in the supplemental materials on the Night and the City DVD, Dassin states that he knew Kazan could not live without his work and the threat of being separated from it was his motivation for turning on his friends. Kazan's alleged lies about his motives are what Dassin found unforgivable.

Personal life

Elia Kazan was married three times.[5] His first wife was playwright Molly Day Thacher. They were married from 1932 until her death in 1963; this marriage produced two daughters and two sons. His second marriage, to the actress Barbara Loden, lasted from 1969 until her death in 1980, and produced one son. Lastly, he was married to Frances Rudge from 1982 until his death in 2003, aged 94.

Honorary Academy Award

In 1999, Kazan received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. He did not use the red-carpet entry to the ceremony, slipping instead through a discreet side entrance and avoiding photographers and reporters that awaited the arrival of movie stars, as well as small groups of demonstrators (both against and in favor of Kazan's award). During the ceremony, he was accompanied by Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Both De Niro and Scorsese had appeared in a film about the Hollywood Red Scare (Guilty by Suspicion). Many in Hollywood felt that enough time had passed that it was appropriate to bury the hatchet and recognize Kazan's great artistic accomplishments but others did not. Some refused to applaud (Nick Nolte and Ed Harris) or applauded but remained seated (Steven Spielberg, Jim Carrey). Warren Beatty, a liberal Democrat, stood up and applauded, as did, others such as Karl Malden, Debbie Allen, Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Kathy Bates, Helen Hunt and Lynn Redgrave.[9][10]

Academy Awards


Tony Awards

  • 1959: Best Direction – J.B.
  • 1949: Best Director – Death of a Salesman
  • 1947: Best Direction – All My Sons
  • 1956: Best Director – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • 1958: Best Play – The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
  • 1958: Best Director – The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
  • 1960: Best Direction of a Play – Sweet Bird of Youth
  • 1965: Best Producer of a Play – Tartuffe

Berlin Film Festival Awards


Cannes Film Festival Awards

  • 1955: Best Dramatic Film – East of Eden (1955)
  • 1952: Grand Prize of the Festival – Viva Zapata!
  • 1955: Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) – East of Eden
  • 1972: Palme d'Or – The Visitors

Venice Film Festival Awards

  • 1950: International Award – Panic in the Streets
  • 1951: Special Jury Prize – A Streetcar Named Desire
  • 1954: Italian Film Critics Award – On the Waterfront
  • 1954: Leone d’Argento (Silver Lion) – On the Waterfront
  • 1955: OCIC Award – On the Waterfront
  • 1948: Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) – Gentleman's Agreement
  • 1950: Leone d'Oro – Panic in the Streets (1950)
  • 1951: Leone d'Oro – A Streetcar Named Desire
  • 1954: Leone d'Oro – On the Waterfront


Year Film Oscar nominations Oscar wins
1937 The People of the Cumberland
1940 City For Conquest
1945 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 2 1
Watchtower Over Tomorrow
1947 The Sea of Grass
Boomerang! 1
Gentleman's Agreement 8 3
1949 Pinky 3
1950 Panic in the Streets 1 1
1951 A Streetcar Named Desire 12 4
1952 Viva Zapata! 5 1
1953 Man on a Tightrope
1954 On the Waterfront 12 8
1955 East of Eden 4 1
1956 Baby Doll 4
1957 A Face in the Crowd
1960 Wild River
1961 Splendor in the Grass 2 1
1963 America, America 4 1
1969 The Arrangement
1972 The Visitors
1976 The Last Tycoon 1


  • Kazan, Elia (1951). The Arrangement: A Novel. New York: Stein and Day. OCLC 36500300. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1962). America America. New York: Popular Library. OCLC 21378773. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1972). The Assassins. London: Collins. ISBN 0002210355. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1973). Kazan on Kazan. London: Secker & Warburg. OCLC 221452156. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1988). Elia Kazan: A Life. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394559533. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1975). The Understudy. New York: Stein and Day. OCLC 9666336. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1977). A Kazan Reader. New York: Stein and Day. ISBN 0812821939. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1978). Acts of Love. New York: Warner. ISBN 0446855537. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1982). The Anatolian. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394525604. 
  • Kazan, Elia (1994). Beyond the Aegean. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0679425659. 
  • Kazan, Elia; Young, Jeff (1999). The Master Director Discusses His Films. New York: Newmarket Press. ISBN 1557043388. 


  1. ^ "Elia Kazan Biography (1909-)". Filmreference.com. http://www.filmreference.com/film/31/Elia-Kazan.html. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  2. ^ "Justice to Elia Kazan". http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_4_urbanities-elia_kazan.html. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  3. ^ "Elia Kazan (1909-2003) - Elia Kazanjoglous". Pegasos. 2003. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/kazan.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (September 30, 2003). "Method Man: Kazan's Landscape of Desire". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E02E2DA113DF933A0575AC0A9659C8B63. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  5. ^ a b c Rothstein, Mervyn (September 28, 2003). "Elia Kazan, Influential Director, Dies at 94". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/28/obituaries/28CND-KAZAN.html. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  6. ^ Navasky, Victor (1980). Naming Names. New York: Viking Press. pp. 199–222. ISBN 9780670503933. 
  7. ^ Vosburgh, Dick (September 30, 2003). "Elia Kazan". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/elia-kazan-548834.html. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  8. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (February 23, 1999). "Kazan Honor Stirs Protest By Blacklist Survivors". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E05E5DA133DF930A15751C0A96F958260. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  9. ^ "Elia Kazan receiving an Honorary Oscar®". YouTube. 2008-04-24. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YziNNCZeNs. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  10. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1999-03-22). "Amid Protests, Elia Kazan Receives His Oscar". NYTimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/22/arts/amid-protests-elia-kazan-receives-his-oscar.html. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  11. ^ "1st Berlin International Film Festival: In Competition". berlinale.de. http://www.berlinale.de/en/archiv/jahresarchive/1953/02_programm_1953/02_Programm_1952.html. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  12. ^ "IMDB.com: Awards for Wild River". imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054476/awards. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 

Further reading

  • Jones, David, Richard (1986). Great directors at work : Stanislavsky, Brecht, Kazan, Brook. Berkeley ; London: University of California Press. ISBN 0520046013. 
  • Ciment, Michel (1988). An American Odyssey. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 0-7475-0241-2. 
  • Schickel, Richard (2005). Elia Kazan: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0060195797. 
  • Murphy, Brenda (2006). Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan : a collaboration in the theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521035244 (pbk). 

External links


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