America’s First Director: Elia Kazan

Born to Greek parents in Constantinople, Turkey on this day in 1909, American film and theater director ELIA KAZAN came to the United States as a child and attended both Williams College and Yale University. Following a period as a professional actor, Kazan became a director as a member of the Group Theatre, and was a founding member of the Actor’s Studio in New York City. He began directing professionally at twenty six, and had a series of successes with major plays by Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder and Arthur Miller.

His first feature film was “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, and an astonishing run of classics would follow, including “Gentlemen’s Agreement”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “On the Waterfront” and “Splendor in the Grass”. The New York Times called Kazan “one of the most influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”.

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