- NAME: Elia Kazan
- OCCUPATION: Director
- BIRTH DATE: September 07, 1909
- DEATH DATE: September 28, 2003
- Did You Know?: Elia Kazan directed both the stage and film versions of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire.
- EDUCATION: New Rochelle High School, Yale University, Williams College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Elia Kazan
- Originally: Elia Kazanjoglous
Best Known For
Turkish-born American director Elia Kazan is best known for his successes on stage and in film, including A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and East of Eden.
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Elia Kazan was born to Greek parents living in Turkey on September 7, 1909. After his family immigrated, he grew up in New York City and attended Williams College and Yale University. As a theater director, he worked with major writers like Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. In Hollywood, he directed award-winning films like A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront,
"Even when I was successful, I remained an outsider. It became my nature."
"I've shed several skins in my time, lived several lives and known violent and cruel changes."
both starring Marlon Brando, and East of Eden with James Dean. Over his career, Kazan received three Tony Awards and two Academy Awards for his directorial work. He was often controversial, most of all when he "named names" of Communist Party members in a 1952 government investigation. He died in New York City in 2003.
Elia Kazan was born Elia Kazanjoglous on September 7, 1909, in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey. His parents, George and Athena (née Sismanoglou) Kazanjoglous, were ethnic Greeks living in Turkey. They shortened their last name to "Kazan" in 1913, when the family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City, where Kazan's father supported the family by working as a rug merchant.
Kazan was educated at public schools in New York City and later in the suburb of New Rochelle, New York. After graduating from New Rochelle High School, he attended Williams College in Massachusetts, graduating in 1930. From 1930 to 1932, he studied drama at Yale University.
In the mid-1930s, Kazan joined New York's experimental Group Theatre. There, he practiced the "Method" style of acting, which encourages actors to draw on their personal experiences and to express themselves with raw emotion on stage. After the Group Theatre disbanded in 1941, Kazan shifted his career from acting to directing. One of his early directorial projects was the Thornton Wilder play The Skin of Our Teeth in 1942.
Kazan also found success as a film director in Hollywood in the 1940s. His first major movie project was an adaptation of the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in 1945, which he followed with several films that took on social issues, including 1947's Gentleman's Agreement, an indictment of anti-Semitism, and 1949's Pinky, a drama about interracial marriage.
In 1947, Kazan co-founded the Actors Studio in New York, an organization that would offer training and performance opportunities to following generations of Method actors. Kazan won two Tony Awards (both for best director) in the late '40s—one for Arthur Miller's All My Sons (1947) and another for Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949). He also directed Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire, which made a major star of Marlon Brando in 1947.
A few years later, Kazan went to Hollywood, California, to direct the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, with Brando again playing the lead role of the crude, virile Stanley Kowalski and Vivien Leigh replacing Jessica Tandy as the aging Southern belle Blanche DuBois.
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