Stanley Earl Kramer
Born: September 29, 1913, New York City, NY
Died: February 19, 2001, Woodland Hills, CA
Considered within the film industry to have served as “Hollywood’s Conscience” during his career as film director and producer, Stanley Kramer created some of the most respected and successful works in the annals of American motion pictures. The master behind such classics as “The Caine Mutiny”, “High Noon”, and “The Defiant Ones”, Stanley Kramer died on February 19th, 2001 in Woodland Hills, California.
Known throughout his 30-year career for taking on hard social issues during an era of film making defined by escapism, Stanley Kramer often attributed his empathy for underdogs and moral causes on his own hardships. Born September 19th, 1913 in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City, Stanley Earl Kramer suffered abject poverty after being abandoned by his father in his early years. Raised by his mother, Mildred Kramer and his maternal grandparents in cramped cold water flat, Kramer divided his time between his education and odd jobs throughout his childhood. Though his family hoped to steer his exceptional academic skills into law school, Kramer was introduced in his youth to the film industry through his mother’s clerical work for Paramount Studios in New York, and set his cap on a film career.
At age 15 Kramer entered New York University during the Depression and in 1933 at age 19 he graduated. He won a writing contest, which won him an internship at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. He left New York permanently for Los Angeles where he later found work as a screenwriter, and set builder at MGM. MGM offered Kramer an income and an opportunity to improve his carpentry skills. He had some success submitting his screenplay to smaller studios and sold his first screenplay “Stuntgirl” to Republic Pictures, Columbia Pictures and its radio affiliate CBS Broadcasting. Kramer graduated to senior editing and earned his first producer credit in 1942 when he was mustered into the Armed Forces.
Stanley Kramer was the original pioneer of independent filmmaking. With his thirty five feature films, he garnered eighty-five Academy Award nominations, holding the record for the most nominations of any filmmaker. He personally received countless awards throughout his distinguished career and he was the most proud of receiving the esteemed Irving Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1961, bestowed to him for his body of work in recognition for his consistent high quality of filmmaking.
Stanley was a maverick, a fearless courageous filmmaker of socially conscious motion pictures. He took on subject matters at a time when it was dangerous and life threatening to have a socially conscious thought. Actually, it was Stanley Kramer who originally broke the "Black List" in 1957 by hiring Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith, two "Black listed" writers for the film "The Defiant Ones" and used their real names and brought them onto the Studio lot and placed them in the office next to his. He did not cut their salary as many other filmmakers did, but, paid them top dollar for their writing. Stanley Kramer then turned around and hired them as the two acting truck drivers over the credits. When it came to screen play written by, he zoomed in and placed their names directly underneath their close up. He was admired, also viciously attacked. His films were provocative because they dealt with issues that had been neglected because filmmakers not only feared the loss financial security, but the loss of their own valued careers. Yet Stanley stood firm, his pioneering courage paved the way for many of the creative thought provoking filmmakers of today. He paid the price for us and pushed forth the acceptability of social themes in the art of cinema.