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Ritt, Martin


RITT, MARTIN (1914–1990), U.S. director, producer, actor. Born in Manhattan's Lower East Side, Ritt attended Elon College in North Carolina, where he played football and boxed. He was occasionally teased for being Jewish but had a good sense of humor and joked that the ham served on Fridays was actually turkey. Ritt left Elon after two years and went to St. John's University in Jamaica, n.y., to study law. He soon befriended director Elia Kazan and left St. John's to act. After serving in World War ii, where he acted and directed, Ritt worked in television. Between the 1940s and the early 1950s, Ritt appeared in more than 150 plays and directed 100 tv shows. Then, in the early 1950s, he was blacklisted for prior Communist Party involvement as part of the McCarthy-era "Red Scare." Unable to find television work, Ritt began teaching at the Actor's Workshop in Manhattan. In 1957, producer David *Susskind defied the blacklist and hired Ritt for his directorial debut, Edge of the City. Ritt went on to direct 25 more films. He directed and produced Hud (1963), starring Paul Newman, which earned Ritt a best director Academy Award nomination. One of Ritt's former Actor's Workshop students, Newman worked together with Ritt many times, including in Paris Blues (1961), Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962), and Hombre (1967), which Ritt also produced. In 1976, Ritt directed The Front, a fictional story of the McCarthy blacklist, that starred Woody Allen. Other Ritt films include The Sound and the Fury (1959), The Molly Maguires (1970), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972), Norma Rae (1979), and Stanley and Iris (1990).

[Susannah Howland (2nd ed.)]

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