Lynn Stalmaster, the legendary casting director who worked on nearly 200 movies ranging from “West Side Story” to “Harold and Maude” to “Tootsie,” has died. He was 93.
Stalmaster died Friday morning in Los Angeles, Casting Society of America executive Laura Adler confirmed.
Stalmaster was a pioneer as an independent casting director who worked on a freelance basis. He was renowned for his skill in spotting new talent and matching actors to the perfect roles. He was also a champion for elevating the status of casting directors in the industry. In 2016, he became the first casting professional to be honored with an Oscar when he received a Governors Award tribute from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
From the mid-1950s through the late 1990s, Stalmaster served as an influential collaborator with such filmmakers as Norman Jewison, Blake Edwards, Arthur Hiller, John Frankenheimer, Hal Ashby, John Cassavetes, Mike Nichols and Sydney Pollack.
Stalmaster credited his success and longevity in the industry to having empathy and understanding of actors, having gotten his start fresh out of UCLA as an actor in such films as Sam Fuller’s “The Steel Helmet” (1951) and Nicholas Ray’s “Flying Leathernecks” (1951) opposite John Wayne. He was also a regular on the 1952-55 TV drama “Big Town.”
“You know, I care so much about actors,” he told Variety in 2016. “Having sat on the other side of the desk for four or five years, I wanted to treat actors with dignity and respect, and have them come in and feel comfortable. It’s tough [being an actor]. If I knew [an actor] was having a bad day, I would always be sensitive to their needs.”
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