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Fay Kanin (May 9, 1917 – March 27, 2013)

Fay Mitchell was raised in Elmira, New York. She won the New York State Spelling Championship at age twelve and was presented with the silver cup by then Governor Franklin Roosevelt. She was soon supplying small articles to the “Elmira Star Gazette.” In high school she wrote and produced a children’s radio show. Mitchell then went on to attend Elmira College where she divided her time between writing and acting. During her final year, she moved to California and attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

She secured a job with RKO Pictures as a story editor and script reader. Mitchell met her future husband while she was performing in Irwin Shaw’s Bury the Dead, a 1936 anti-war drama. In 1942 Fay and her husband Michael Kanin wrote the film Sunday Punch. The couple continued to write until they were blacklisted in 1952.

They were finally able to write and produce the screenplay for Rhapsody in 1953. They eventually began separate writing careers in the early 70s. In 1979 Fay became the elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and only their second female president (the first having been the legendary Bette Davis). Fay served four terms as president. She served as vice president of the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2000. In 2007 to 2008 Fay served on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.

Over her career, Fay has won 3 Emmys, a Crystal award in 1980, a Board of Governors award from the American Society of Cinematographers in 1993, a PGA Hall of Fame award in 1993, a Kieser award in 2003 and the Edmund J. North award from the Writers Guild of America in 2005.

Fay’s cause of death is unknown, but she died in Santa Monica, California at age 95. She was survived by her youngest son. (Her husband Michael had died in 1993 and her eldest son had died at age 13 in 1958.)

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