Garson Kanin

Garson Kanin has worked as an actor on stage and as a director on Broadway and in Hollywood, but his best-known work is as a writer. During the Great Depression, he dropped out of high school to help support his family by working as a musician and later as a comedian. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts from 1932 to 1933. He briefly worked as an actor on Broadway following his studies but then worked as an assistant to the Broadway director George Abbot. In 1937, he joined Samuel Goldwyn’s staff but left after a year because he had not been given any directing assignments. He was signed by RKO and there directed such films as The Great Man Votes (1939) and Tom, Dick and Harry (1941), but he soon became frustrated by the lack of control he had over his films under the studio system. When he was drafted during World War II, he made documentary films for the War Information and Emergency Manpower offices. One of them, co-directed by Carol Reed, The True Glory (1945), won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. During the war years, Kanin began writing stories and plays as well. After the war, he directed his play “Born Yesterday” on Broadway, which he later adapted for the screen. He and his wife, Ruth Gordon, collaborated on four screenplays, including Adam’s Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952). They stopped working on scripts together for the sake of their marriage after 1952, but in 1979 they co-wrote one more, the TV film Hardhat and Legs (1980). Kanin and Gordon were never under contract by any studio as writers. They wrote the scripts on their own and sold them to interested Hollywood studios.

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