- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

LOS ANGELES His films explored everything from racism to war crimes, nuclear holocaust to social ostracism. Yet Stanley Kramer always shunned the description "message movie" for his films.

"He never thought he was a message filmmaker, just a man who believed very strongly in social-conscience issues," said Karen Sharpe Kramer, the producer-director's wife of 35 years.

Mr. Kramer, whose nearly three dozen films included such classics as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Judgment at Nuremberg" and "Inherit the Wind," died Monday at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 87 and had been ill with pneumonia,

One of his most famous films, "High Noon," portrayed a man standing up to evil while others in his community cowered in the shadows. Mr. Kramer's wife said such behavior typified her husband as well.

"What epitomized Stanley Kramer as a man and a father and as a filmmaker was that line from 'Judgment at Nuremberg,' which is, 'Let it be known this is what we stand for: Truth, justice and the value of a single human being,' " she said.

In the 1950s and '60s, first as producer and later as producer-director, Mr. Kramer explored such issues as race in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "The Defiant Ones," Nazi war crimes in "Judgment at Nuremberg," fundamentalism vs. modern science in "Inherit the Wind" and nuclear holocaust in "On the Beach."

"He stood for things that nobody else ever stood for in those days," his wife said.

Despite that, Mr. Kramer insisted he didn't want to be known as simply a "message director" and among his peers he was remembered as much more.

"Stanley Kramer is one of our great filmmakers, not just for the art and passion he put on-screen, but for the impact he has made on the conscience of the world," director Steven Spielberg once said.

While none of his films won the Oscar for best picture, a number were nominated: "High Noon," "The Caine Mutiny," "The Defiant Ones," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Ship of Fools" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

Mr. Kramer was nominated as best director three times and in 1962 was presented the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for outstanding work. He also received the Producers Guild of America's David O. Selznick Life Achievement Award.

Stanley Earl Kramer was born in New York City on Sept. 29, 1913, and grew up in Manhattan's tough Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. He later attended New York University.

He broke into the movie business in the 1930s as a researcher, editor and writer before leaving for military service in World War II. His first film, "So This Is New York," was released in 1948.

His last picture, "The Runner Stumbles," starring Dick Van Dyke as a Catholic priest who falls in love with a nun, was released in 1979.

Besides his wife, Mr. Kramer is survived by daughters Katharine, Jennifer and Casey and his son, Larry.

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