In cleaning out the K files, I opened Elia Kazan’s folder. For those who are unfamiliar with Kazan, he was a film and theater director known especially for his works On the Waterfront, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Kazan was nearly blacklisted as a Communist by the HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee) but instead turned in eight friends to save his name. In 1999 he was granted an Honorary Academy Award, the Life Time Achievement Award, in 1999 which caused a stir among actors and directors–both current and those once-blacklisted.
I assumed that either nothing would be in the file or that what did remain would be newspaper clippings and photocopied articles. Don’t get me wrong, these things were in here, too. But what I found was a short correspondence between the Walker and Kazan. The request was to have him in attendance for a potential Regis Dialogue. His response, although not rude, was short and to the point. Something to the effect of, “No, ask me again when I am eighty. And too, flattery is bad for the soul.” I could not help but smile at the pointed rejection, at his dry touch of humor.
Needless to say, Kazan did not take part in a dialogue and passed away in 2003 at the age of 94. In the file, no later correspondence exists nor did he ever come for a dialogue–perhaps nobody contacted him when he was eighty, as he suggested.