Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Martin Ritt

Martin Ritt was born in New York City in 1914 to a Jewish immigrant family. He went to school in the Bronx and later, played college football at Elon College in North Carolina. His New York upbringing and depression era experience instilled on him a passion for expressing himself, his struggles, inequality. This brought him to theater, he worked for the Work Progress Administration as a playwright and later, for the Group Theater of New York City. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force where he was an actor  Winged Victory.

Next thing, Ritt became a famous television director after an already successful career in theater. His connections and friendliness with the leftist movement and his keen with some Marxist principles got him, essentially, blacklisted. He was mentioned in an anti-communist letter published by a group made of former FBI agents called Counterattack. So, Martin returned theater for a little bit but in 1956, he turned into film and overall directed more than 25 films.
In the 1970s, Ritt received acclaim for a lot of his movies, including Norma Rae. He won the Technical Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Norma Rae. Martin Ritt died at 76 in California, in 1990. 

Fun fact: Actress Sally Field (who got an Oscar for Norma Rae) starred in his last three movies.



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