- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Director Elia Kazan, whose triumphs included the original Broadway productions of “Death of a Salesman” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and the Academy Award-winning film “On the Waterfront,” died yesterday. He was 94.

Mr. Kazan was at his home in Manhattan when he died, lawyer Floria Lasky said. She did not give a cause of death.

Five of the plays he staged won Pulitzer Prizes for their authors: “The Skin of Our Teeth,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Death of a Salesman,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “J.B.,” for which Mr. Kazan himself won a Tony Award.

In Hollywood, he won Oscars for directing “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “On the Waterfront.” He also did “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “East of Eden,” “Splendor in the Grass,” “A Face in the Crowd” and “The Last Tycoon.”

Mr. Kazan made enemies among some Hollywood liberals when he “named names” by testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952.

He told the committee that he had joined a unit of the Communist Party made up of members of New York’s Group Theatre in the summer of 1934 and left 18 months later, disillusioned at “being told what to think and say and do.” He identified his former comrades to the committee.

In 1999, when the motion picture academy announced Mr. Kazan would receive a special Oscar for his life’s work. On awards night, some in the audience refused to applaud for Mr. Kazan when he was presented the award by director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro.

Some critics saw “On the Waterfront” as a metaphor for Mr. Kazan’s cooperation with congressional investigators. The movie’s hero, portrayed by Marlon Brando, breaks the code of silence on the docks and courageously identifies a corrupt union boss in televised hearings.

Mr. Kazan started out as a stage actor but his ambition was to direct, which he began doing in the mid-1930s. The breakthrough came when he staged Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” in 1942 and won a New York Drama Critics Award.

Born Elia Kazanjoglous on Sept. 7, 1909, in what was then Constantinople, Turkey, he was the son of a Greek rug merchant. The family came to New York when Mr. Kazan was 4.

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