Veteran screenwriter, producer and director Hal Kanter died Sunday of complications of pneumonia in Encino, his daughter Donna Kanter told the Los Angeles Times. He was 92. “He was considered one of the wits of the industry,” said Carl Reiner, upon learning of Kanter’s death. “He was a funny elder statesman, and there’s nothing better.” In a career that spanned several decades, Kanter worked in radio, TV and movies. He wrote for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Kanter directed Elvis Presley in Loving You which he co-wrote and he wrote the screenplaly for Blue Hawaii. He even collaborated with Tennessee Williams on the 1955 movie version of The Rose Tatoo. Among other movie credits were George Cukor’s Let’s Make Love, with Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand and Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles.
His numerous TV credits included creation of the landmark sitcom Julia, for which Diahann Carroll became the first black actress to star in her own sitcom whose character was a professional woman rather than a maid. He also worked briefly on All in the Family and was a writer and produceer on Chico and the Man. His association with the Oscars as a writer on the ceremony began in 1952 when it still on radio and continued for more than 30 years. In 1991 and ’92 he shared Emmys for writing duties on the Oscar show telecast. His other Emmy was for The George Gobel Show.
Kanter was also very active in the Writers Guild of America which honored him multiple times for his service to the guild, the industry and the community. The WGA West recognized Kanter for lifetime achievement wtih the Paddy Chayevsky Laurel Award for Television (a lifetime achievement nod) in 1989. Reiner noted that Kanter also served as master of ceremonies for the Directors Guild of America’s awards dinner for many years. “Any time he was called upon, he always could make the audience laugh.” He hosted numerous Writers Guild ceremonies as well.
He is survived by his longtime wife Doris, daughters Donna Kanter, Lisa Kanter Shafer and Abigail Kanter Jaye, a sister and a granddaughter.