Born March 2, 1914, in New York, NY; died of complications from heart disease, December 8, 1990, in Santa Monica, CA. Director, producer, and actor. Rittgained prominence for making films that championed the oppressed and downtrodden. He began his career as a stage actor, joining Lee Strasberg's famous Group Theatre and appearing in such productions as Golden Boy, The Gentle People, and Two on an Island. He also began directing plays and achieved success inthe 1940s with dramas, including The Big People and Set My People Free. In the late 1940s he started working in television and until 1951 appeared in more than one hundred fifty teleplays while also directing more than one hundredshows. In 1951, however, targeted by Senator Joseph McCarthy for alleged communist sympathies, Ritt was fired from his job with CBS. Unable to find workin television, he resumed his association with the Group Theatre and its Actors' Studio, before deciding to direct feature films. He made his first film,Edge of the City, in 1957 and in the following three decades found wide acclaim for such films as The Long Hot Summer, The Molly Maguires, Sounder, and Hud, which earned Ritt an Academy Award nomination for best director. One of his most successful films is Norma Rae, a 1979 picture about a textile worker'sattempts to organize a union. Toward the end of his career Ritt directed Murphy's Romance and Stanley and Iris and resumed acting, appearing in such films as The End of the Game and The Slugger's Wife.