Fay Kanin Passes Away at Age 95; Former Academy President, Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter

Fay Kanin
Fay Kanin (left) with producer Ismail Merchant and actress Nanette Fabray at an after party for the 2003 premiere of "Le Divorce".

A powerhouse in the entertainment industry, screenwriter, producer and former Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Fay Kanin, passed away Wednesday at the age of 95, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The star’s caretaker, Monique West, said Kanin died of natural causes in her home in Santa Monica.

Kanin is best known for the romantic comedy “Teacher’s Pet,” in which she was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay in 1959 alongside her late husband, Michael Kanin. The film starred Clark Gable as a hard-headed newspaper editor who believed in the power of tough love and Doris Day as Gable’s night school teacher.

Kanin won three Primetime Emmy Awards: one for producing the 1979 TV war drama “Friendly Fire” with Carol Burnett and Ned Beatty, another for best original writing and a special award for writer of the year for the 1974 teleplay “Tell Me Where it Hurts.”

Kanin began working in show business in the early 1940s writing the comedy-drama “Sunday Punch.” She also acted in “A Double Life” playing an “Othello” actress and as a professor in “Rich and Famous,” a 1980s drama about two college roommates' hardships.

Kanin served the prestiguous role as President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for five years, being only the second female president, after Bette Davis.

Fay Kanin Fay Kanin (right) at the premiere of actor Gloria Stuart's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, Ca. in 2000. Kanin is accompanished by (L-R) Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant, "Avatar" director James Cameron and President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Leron Gubler.

The Academy released a press release expressing its sadness of the passing of their former president.

“She was committed to the Academy’s preservation work and instrumental in expanding our public programming. A tireless mentor and inspiration to countless filmmakers, Fay’s passion for film continues to inspire us daily. Our prayers and condolences go out to her loved ones.”

Kanin revealed in an interview with the Writer’s Guild Foundation late last year that she began her writing her at age 13 when she saw an ad in her local newspaper looking for entries for their “Most Embarrassing Moment” column.

“I invented an embarrassing moment. I wrote it up and I sent it in and in the next week I saw my letter there and I got a dollar and I thought, ‘you can make money from writing’ which I hadn’t realized!” she said.

“I guess that was the impetus that said, 'gee, this could be fun and you can make money from it.'”

Kanin’s husband Michael passed away in 1993 after a successful Hollywood career, winning the Oscar for best original screenplay in 1943 for “Woman of the Year,” starring Katharine Hepburn. His brother Garson Kanin was a noted director and screenwriter and husband of Ruth Gordon.

The couple’s son Joel died of lung cancer at the age of 13 in 1958. She is survived by her son Josh, an assistant film editor and professor at Santa Monica College, two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

The trailer for Kanin's best known film, "Teacher's Pet."

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