Lynn Stalmaster, the Oscar-winning casting director whose eye for talent helped establish the careers of John Travolta, Christopher Reeve, Richard Dreyfuss and many other actors, has died.
Stalmaster became the first person for an Academy Award for casting when he admitted an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2016. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had long resisted giving special recognition to casting directors and Stalmaster was brought to tears.
"It's not only an Oscar for me personally, but it's recognizing the major contribution casting makes," he said.
He started his career as a celebrity, even emerging with John Wayne in the 1951 film"Flying Leathernecks," but desired a backup plan. He was an apprentice to a pair of TV producers who made him his own casting manager.
Stalmaster was looking for stars for displays such as"Gunsmoke" and"Ben Casey" when director Robert Wise tapped him to cast supporting actors in a 1958 film starring Susan Hayward called"I wish to Live!"
Stalmaster opened his independent casting office just as the reign of Hollywood's contract-based studio system finished, which allowed actors and directors new liberty of choice in picking their endeavors. Stalmaster made it his business to know every youthful performer in Los Angeles and New York, and traveled the U.S. and Europe to find fresh talent.
"A leader of the craft, Lynn was a trailblazer with over half a century of world-class movie and tv casting credits," said the Casting Society of America in a statement. "Thank you, Lynn, for showing us just how"
Born in Omaha, Nebraska at 1927, Stalmaster stated his father gave him the confidence to become a performer.
"Imagine my father -- he had been on the Supreme Court in Nebraska -- fathers don't want their sons to function as celebrities," he said. "But he explained ,'I would like you to go to the Abbey Theater. '''
With his background in acting, Stalmaster would often read opposite the actors he hoped to cast to bring out their very best performance during auditions.
"I could look into their eyes and play with the scene," he said in a 2016 interview. "And I played more roles than any other actor in history -- and females!"
He indicated Travolta for what became his breakout function: Vinnie Barbarino in the sitcom"Welcome Back, Kotter." Other celebrities who will thank Stalmaster for early movie roles include Dreyfuss, who had one line in 1967's"The Graduate," as well as Jon Voight, James Caan, Martin Landau and Jeff Bridges.