Stanley Kubrick was one of Hollywood’s, and the world’s, most beloved cinema directors.
His films included lasting icons like “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Spartacus,” and “The Shining,” and he remains, even in death, one of the film industry’s most respected artists.
Kubrick was born July 26, 1928, in Manhattan, to a Jewish family. As a young man he earned a living as a magazine photographer, moving onto film documentaries in 1951.
That career change transitioned into short films, and eventually feature films. “Fear and Desire,” Kubrick’s first full-length movie, came out tin 1953, the first of a handful of well received but mostly unseen works.
“Spartacus,” however, in 1960, was a game changer for Kubrick. The film was a box office success, opening the door to greater backing from the studios.
No stranger to censorship, Kubrick’s work often included envelope-pushing subject matter, as in “A Clockwork Orange,” “Lolita,” and “Eyes Wide Shut.” That flair for the unusual, however, earned Kubrick a staunch following of fans.
British screenwriter Frederic Raphael, a close friend of Kubrick’s who worked with the director during his final years, once said Kubrick’s originality was due in part to his “[Jewish] respect for scholars.”
Raphael added that it was “absurd to try to understand Stanley Kubrick without reckoning on Jewishness as a fundamental aspect of his mentality.”
Kubrick died in his sleep on March 7, 1999, from a heart attack. His funeral was held at his family home in the English countryside, where he was interred, and the mourner’s Kaddish was recited.