March 1, 2001
Stanley Kramer, 87
Legendary filmmaker Stanley Earl Kramer, best known for films such as the classic western "High Noon," died on Feb. 19 of pneumonia. He was 87.
Born in New York's Hell's Kitchen on Sept. 29, 1913, Kramer was among the pioneer independent producers, working outside the studio system to finance his socially conscious films. After working at MGM, he started his own production company in 1947. Kramer's first film, "So This Is New York," flopped, but he scored with subsequent projects -- 1949's "The Champion," and "Home of the Brave," addressing anti-Semitism in the armed forces.
Kramer's distinguished filmography also includes "The Wild Ones" (1954) with Marlon Brando; 1958's "The Defiant Ones" with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier; "Inherit the Wind" (1960); and "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), about the Nazi war-crimes tribunal. Kramer also made the ambitious, three-hour-plus comedy epic "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), famous for a marathon celebrity roster that included Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Jonathan Winters, and Don Knotts.
After his last feature, 1979's "The Runner Stumbles," flopped, Kramer moved his family to Seattle, where he taught at the University of Washington and wrote a weekly column for The Seattle Times. Seven years later, he returned to Hollywood and unsuccessfully tried to launch features on Lech Walesa and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. While the nine-time nominated Kramer never won an Academy Award, four actors did win Oscars® for roles in his films: Katharine Hepburn for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"; Maximilian Schell for "Judgment at Nuremberg"; Gary Cooper for "High Noon"; and Jose Ferrer for "Cyrano de Bergerac."
Kramer was residing in the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills when he passed away. He is survived by Karen Sharpe Kramer, his wife of 35 years; and two daughters.