Elia Kazan, Signature Set 15.5″ x 15.5″, Elia Kazan Director. Signature Card is 1″ x 3″
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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.
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 Scorcese co-directed the documentary film A Letter to Elia (2010) as a personal tribute to Kazan.