Presidents Column By Robert W. Nudelman
On February 19, one of the giants of the motion picture industry passed away. Stanley Kramer was 87. He was a producer of all of his films, and a director of many classics: Inherit the Wind, On The Beach, Guess Whos Coming To Dinner, Judgment At Nuremberg, Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The Defiant Ones, Ship of Fools, and several more.
Starting in 1948 he was one of the very first independent post-WWII producers and pioneered the field while at Columbia and United Artists pictures. In those days, a producer did everythingpackaged the film and the financing, oversaw all hiring, co-wrote or rewrote the screenplay, advised on direction and oversaw the final cut, as well as dealing with Harry Cohn (Cohn had wanted Stanley to become head of production at Columbia, but Stanley refused to give up his independence).
As an independent producer, he created a wide variety of screen classics such as High Noon, The Caine Mutiny, The Men, Member of the Wedding, Champion, The Wild One, Cyrano de Bergerac, A Child Is Waiting, Death of a Salesman, and Dr. Seusss fantasy story The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Stanley Kramer films were nominated for 86 Academy Awards, second only to William Wylers 87 nominations, and he won the Academys prestigious Thalberg Award. He also received lifetime achievement awards from many groups including the ACLU, NAACP, and from numerous medical, political, and social organizations, for the contributions that his films made to bettering society.
His involvement with Hollywood Heritage came at the beginning of the battle to save the Cinerama Dome Theater, the only theater built to open a specific film, Kramers Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, in 1963. He offered his name and support without hesitation and that played a major role in garnering the support of the motion picture industrys guilds and prominent individuals.
During my last conversation with him he brought up the Cinerama Dome and asked how the rehabilitation was progressing. Although his mind was strong, his health was frail. But he still planned to attend the theaters reopening. The theaters restoration, as well as that of Hollywood itself, were issues he was very supportive of (most of his films were shot here, at Columbia or United Artists studios).
Hollywood Heritage gives its sincere thanks to Stanley Kramer for his contributions to Hollywood, motion pictures, and a life spent working to improve society while entertaining it. His life and career will continue to inspire people to think about what they can do with their lives well into the future. If only more filmmakers today had that courage.
Hollywood Heritage offers its thanks and condolences to Stanley Kramers family, his wife Karen, and their daughters Katharine and Jennifer. Their qualities have greatly reflected those of Stanley, and their continuing support of Hollywood Heritage has been an honor for our organization.
Another loss for Hollywood occurred with the passing of Terry Jorgensen. Terry was president of the Bank of Hollywood, and had stayed on after the merger with Peoples Bank to handle issues in the community. He was a tireless booster of Hollywood who viewed his role as working to bring back the communitys economy.
I first met him in 1979 after reading of his plans in the Hollywood Independent for Hollywood to be its own city. He was right then, and is still right today. As the process winds its way through to create an independent city of Hollywood, Terry Jorgensens original inspiration will always play an important role.
He also often acted as a voice of reason in battles between the preservationists vs. developers or the Chamber of Commerce, or whomever else wanted to destroy the village in order to save it. Terry always offered his time and support when asked. He will be missed by people on both sides of the fence.