Hal Kanter (December 18, 1918; Savannah, Georgia – November 6, 2011; Encino, California) was a writer, producer and director, principally for comedy actors such as Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, and Elvis Presley (in Loving You and Blue Hawaii), for both feature films and television. Kanter helped Tennessee Williams turn the play by Williams into the film version of The Rose Tattoo. Since 1991, he was regularly credited as a writer for the Academy Award broadcasts. Kanter was also the creator and executive producer of the television series Julia.
Kanter was famous for saying, "Radio is theater of the mind; TV is theater of the mindless."
Kanter was born to a Jewish family in Savannah, Georgia. He started his career peddling jokes to Eddie Cantor for his radio program. Kanter recalls, "I'd listen to his show and say, 'I can write jokes as funny as that,' so I walked from my rooming house to his show, and told the guard, 'Mr. Kanter is here to see Mr. Cantor, figuring he'd see me because of our names, although his real name was Iskowitch. I was seventeen years old and had the nerve of a burglar." Although Kanter was not hired by Cantor, one of his writers, Hugh Wedlock, Jr., paid Kanter $10 per week to write jokes. Wedlock would then resell Kanter's jokes to Cantor. Kanter stated, "So I became a ghostwriter to a ghostwriter."
Kanter's autobiography, So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business, was published in 1999 by McFarland & Company, Inc., of Jefferson, North Carolina. The book chronicles his early life, his struggles in Hollywood during his early years, and his eventual success in show business in general and as a comedy writer in particular.
Kanter died at his home in Encino, California on November 6, 2011, at the age of 92.
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