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July 17, 2009

Library of Congress Gives Fay Kanin 100th Living Legend Award

Fay Kanin's name is legendary in Hollywood, but she has primarily left her mark behind the scenes of the motion picture industry and in the unheralded field of film preservation. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington recently honored Kanin for her 20 years of service to the Library as chair of the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) with a presentation of the institution's 100th Living Legend Award.

"The role played by Fay Kanin as chair of the board for the past 20 years has been critical to the Library's success in increasing public awareness of the need to preserve America's film heritage," Billington said.

NFPB (www.loc.gov/film/) was established by Congress in 1988 in recognition of tremendous losses to America's film heritage that have occurred due to neglect, deterioration, color fading, and outright destruction of original film negatives and other archival production elements. At the same time, Congress established the Library of Congress National Film Registry, which mandates the Librarian of Congress to select 25 American films annually for the National Film Registry. To date, 500 films have been added to the registry based on their historical, cultural and/or aesthetic importance.

The Library's Living Legend designation is given to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to America's diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. Recipients of the award have all enriched the nation through their professional accomplishments and personal excellence. Since the award was established in 2000 to celebrate the Library's bicentennial, other honorees who have made contributions to the film industry include Steven Spielberg, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Martin Scorsese and Barbra Streisand.

Born Fay Mitchell in New York City in 1917, Kanin began writing at an early age. She married Michael Kanin in 1940 and they became a successful team writing screenplays for such notable films as "My Pal Gus," "The Opposite Sex" and "Teacher's Pet," which garnered them an Oscar nomination in 1958. As a solo writer, Kanin wrote and produced some of the most memorable movies made for television, including the Emmy-winning drama "Friendly Fire."

Kanin became an industry leader as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1979-1983. Since 1989, she has been the only person to serve as chair of the Library's National Film Preservation Board in its 20-year history.

Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., also recognized Kanin's contributions on the floor of the House of Representatives: "Since 1989, Fay Kanin has served with distinction as the chair of the National Film Preservation Board, a congressionally-mandated advisory board to the Librarian of Congress. The board, under her leadership, has assisted the Librarian of Congress in educating Americans about the diversity of our nation's film heritage and highlighted the importance of preservation and the intensive efforts required to safeguard our irreplaceable movie heritage."

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library's rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at myLOC.gov.

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PR 09-142
07/17/09
ISSN 0731-3527

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