Date of birth : September 7, 1909, Kadi-Kev, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire.
Date of death : Sseptember 28, 2003, New York City.
Place of living : a farm in Newtown, Connecticut.
Born form a Greek family from Anatolia, who emigrated to the USA in 1913, when he was 4 years old.
His family, as Arthur Miller's one, was ruined by the Wall Street crash.
Elia graduated at Williams College and spent 2 years at the Yale Drama School.
He married a member of the Party, Molly Thatcher, who was asociated to the direction of the New Theater, a Communist revue, and writing teacher at the Theater Union.One of their best friends was Clifford Odets, another member of the Party.
Their political convictions were inseparable of their theatrical ideas.
At the Group Theater, Gadge had began as handy man before becoming the director assistant.
Kazan's break up with the Party happened in 1936 when the Party commanded him to take the Group Theater control :,
Five years later, the Group Theater was disbanded and Kazan turned to Broadway. He soon became a successful director with plays such as "The Skin of Our Teeth" of Thomas Wilder and "Jacobowsky and the Colonel" of S.N.Behrman.
The premiere of "A Streetcar Named Desire" took place in New York City on December 3, 1947.
During the 40's ans 50's, he directed a majority of the Broadway successful plays, including "Death of a Salesman" written by his friend Arthur Miller, that he staged in 1949 :
At that time, Kazan was considered as the most powerful director of the USA. In Broadway, he had directed 3 plays which had won the Pulitzer prize. His association with Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams
()brought him a reputation of playwrights
director. But he also knew how to direct the actors. It was thanks to
his work with
Marlon Brando in 1947 (when they first staged "A Streetcar Named Desire"), that Kazan could have negociate a very advantageous contract with the Fox.
This contract (non exclusive) of 6 movies with the studio, guaranteed him for each movie a higher salary (the highest that a studio had ever agreed to pay to a director).Many of his movies were plays adaptation : "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945), " Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), "Viva Zapata!" (1952),"On the Waterfront" (1954), "East of Eden" (1955) and "A Face in the Crowd" (1957).
On March 19, 1951, he arrived in Los Angeles to attend the Academy Awards ceremony, which had to take place the next day, 20th.
His movie "A Streetcar Named Desire" won 4 Oscars : Best Actress to Vivien Leigh, Best Actor in a Supporting Role to Karl Malden, Best Actress in a Supporting Role to Kim Hunter and Set Decoration to George James
This day, Kazan (who was in Los Angeles to prepare "The Hook" written by Arthur Miller), came on the set of "As Young As You Feel", to see the director of the movie, Harmon Jones, who had worked for him as film editor.
Kazan's house was excluded, because Molly Thatcher, his wife for 18 years and their 4 children lived there.
According to some versions, their affair didn't last long; according to others, it went on until Summer 1951.In his autobiography "Elia Kazan :"A Life", he asserted that he kept on having sexual relations with Marilyn during the next 10 years.
To Marilyn, the most important event linked to their affair was the meeting she made; on the set "As Young As You Feel", he introduced her to Arthur Miller, in 1951.
This first encounter and their meetings during the 2 following days started the fire which would consume them 5 years later when Marilyn would live in New York.
In addition, Kazan played a less positive part in Marilyn's life. His testimony on January 14, 1952, in front of the House Un-American Activities Commitee (HUAC) caused Arthur Miller's appearance. Kazan not only had named Miller, but also Paula Strasberg, Morris Carnovsky and his wife Phoebe Brand, Clifford Odets and other members of the New York Group Theater of the 30's. He talked about his own association with the Communist Party and his disillusion. His testimony ended (temporarily) his relations with Arthur Miller.In 1953, he staged in Broadway "Carmino Real" of Tennessee Williams.
In March 1954, his movie "On the Waterfront" won 8 Oscars, including the one of the Best Motion Picture and the Best Story and Screenplay.
In 1955 Kazan introduced Lee Strasberg to Marilyn. He organized the meeting in New York with Cheryl Crawford. Lee Strasberg was the famous manager of the Actors Studio, Elia Kazan had founded with him at the end of the 40's.
Despite the coolness in the relations between Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan, Marilyn was the usherette during a representation of
Despite the coolness in the relations between Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan, Marilyn was the usherette during a representation of"East of Eden", on March 9, 1955, for the Actors Studio's benefit.
She also attended the premiere of the Tennessee Williams's play , "Cat on a Tin Roof", directed by Kazan, and the premiere of "Baby Doll", on December 18, 1956, directed by Kazan too :
On June 1, 1959, Elia Kazan wrote to Marilyn, thanking her for her support to Lee Strasberg:.
Marilyn was sorry about the quarrel which separated her husband and the director, and she would have tried to bring them back together.
It needed several years for their successful collaboration to revive :after Marilyn's death, Kazan directed Miller's play "After the Fall" :
The actress Barbara Loden played the character inspired from Marilyn.
1960 : he directed "Splendor in the Grass".
In 1998, he received an Honorary Award for his whole work, which aroused heated controversy and presented a not much "honorable" aspect of his past : actually, in 1952, his testimony and the names he gave to the HUAC led the registration on the black list of many of his partners and colleagues.
"Elia Kazan : A life". New York : Alfred A.Knopf, 1988.