Fay Kanin, Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter and Academy President, Dies at 95

Fay Kanin won three Emmys

Fay Kanin, an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning screenwriter, died Wednesday of natural causes. She was 95.

In addition to her award-winning work, Kanin served as the second female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the nonprofit organization behind the Academy Awards, from 1979 to 1983.

Getty Images"She was committed to the Academy's preservation work and instrumental in expanding our public programming," the Academy said in a statement. "A tireless mentor and inspiration to countless filmmakers, Fay's passion for film continues to inspire us daily."

Kanin's credits bridged the small and big screen, and she often specialized in romantic comedies that explored the age-old theme of the battle of the sexes. She received her Oscar nomination for penning the 1958 romantic comedy "Teacher's Pet," which served as a vehicle for Doris Day. Other film credits included "My Pal Gus," a 1952 comedy with Richard Widmark; "The Opposite Sex," a 1956 musical remake of "The Women"; and "Rhapsody," a 1954 musical romance starring Elizabeth Taylor.

On TV, Kanin won three Emmys — two for writing  "Tell Me Where It Hurts" (1974), which followed a disenchanted housewife who forms a discussion group, and another for producing "Friendly Fire" (1979), which starred Carole Burnett and dramatized a family's discovery that their son had been killed by accidently by U.S. troops.

Kanin's career was briefly derailed after she and her husband, screenwriter Michael Kanin, ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee and were blacklisted in the early '50s for their alleged Communist sympathies.  The couple was unable to work for two years until director Charles Vidor asked them to write the screenplay for "Rhapsody."

In addition to her work with the Academy, Kanin served as the president of the Screen Branch of the Writers Guild of America and as chair of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, and was involved in other film industry organizations.

Although she worked regularly and was in demand at a time in which screenwriting remained closed to all but a handful of women, she shied away from making too much of her glass ceiling shattering legacy.

“I don’t think you think of yourself as a pioneer," Kanin said. "I just felt very fortunate.”

Kanin remained married to her husband for five decades. The couple got married in 1940 and Michael Kanin died of lung cancer in 1993. They had two sons, Joel and Josh, and two grandchildren. Josh died at age 13 of lung cancer.