ELIA KAZAN Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


Biography » theater opera and movie personalities » elia kazan


Name: Elias Kazanjoglou                                                                 
Born: 7 September 1909 Constantinople, Ottoman Empire                                   
Died: 28 September 2003 New York, US                                                     
Elia Kazan (September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was a                             
Greek-American film and theatre director, film and theatrical producer,                 
screenwriter, novelist and cofounder of the influential Actors Studio in New             
York in 1947.                                                                           
Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazancıoğlu in 1909 in Constantinople (present-day           
Istanbul, Turkey), then capital of the Ottoman Empire, to a Greek family.               
According to some sources he was born in the Anatolian city of Kayseri.                 
Suffering the prejudice of being Greek from the newly formed government of the           
Young Turks, his family emigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in           
New York City, where his father, George Kazanjoglou, became a rug merchant.             
Kazan's father expected that his son would go into the family business, but his         
mother, Athena, encouraged Kazan to make his own decisions.                             
Kazan attended public schools in New York City and New Rochelle, New York. After         
graduating from Williams College, Massachusetts, Kazan studied at Yale                   
University's School of Drama. In the 1930s, Kazan acted with New York's Group           
Theatre, alongside (among others) Lee Strasberg, Clifford Odets, and Stella and         
Luther Adler. During this period, Kazan earned his nickname 'Gadg,' short for           
Gadget - he never learned to love the name. For about 19 months in 1934-36,             
Kazan was a member of a secret Communist cell.                                           
He became one of the most visible members of the Hollywood elite. Kazan's               
theater credits included acting in Men in White, Waiting for Lefty, Johnny               
Johnson, and Golden Boy, and directing A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Cat           
on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), two of the plays that made Tennessee Williams a               
theatrical and literary force, and All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman, (1949)   
the plays which did much the same for Arthur Miller. He received three Tony             
Awards, winning for All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and J.B.                           
Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)                                         
Kazan's history as a film director is scarcely less noteworthy. He won two               
Academy Awards for Best Director, for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On the           
Waterfront (1954). He elicited remarkable performances from actors such as               
Marlon Brando and Oscar winners Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter in A           
Streetcar Named Desire (1951) (the film version of Tennessee Williams' play),           
James Dean and Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (adapted from the John         
Steinbeck novel), and Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd.