Garson Kanin was a 20th century Renaissance Man: musician, burlesque comedian, actor, stage and film director, writer, and raconteur. Best known for Born Yesterday, he wrote plays, essays, screenplays, short stories, novels, memoirs, songs, and a libretto; he directed plays, musicals, an opera, documentaries and films.
Kanin was a clarinet playing bandleader, then a comedian in the Catskills before making his Broadway debut as an actor in 1933. At 24, Kanin directed his first Broadway play, which led to Hollywood where he directed feature films. While working at RKO Studios, he was drafted into the US Army’s Film unit to direct training and patriotic films.
After the war, Kanin experienced a creative explosion that continued for decades. His play Born Yesterday opened on Broadway in 1946, running for four years. With Ruth Gordon, Kanin co-wrote four screenplays, three of which were nominated for academy awards.
In 1955 he directed the Broadway premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank. His first short story was published that same year. Throughout the next four decades, Kanin wrote many short stories, six novels, and essays as well as five nonfiction books. His theatre credits included the musical Do Re Mi, adapted from his novella. For television, he created the series Mr. Broadway, and a miniseries based on his novel Moviola was broadcast in 1980.
Ruth Gordon died in 1985; Kanin married Marian Seldes in 1990.
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