Garson Kanin, a highly sought-after Broadway and Hollywood writer and director whose works included the comedy “Born Yesterday” and the battle of the sexes, “Adam’s Rib” (written with his late wife, Ruth Gordon), died Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 86. A high-school dropout who apprenticed himself to Broadway and Hollywood giants such as Samuel Goldwyn, Kanin was a great raconteur and a fixture of New York’s Russian Tea Room (until that celebrity hangout closed a few years ago). He paired his friends Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn (he and Gordon wrote “Woman of the Year,” the first Tracy-Hepburn movie), and he made Judy Holliday a star. Her classic dumb blonde role in his “Born Yesterday” included the classic line (to her mobster boyfriend): “Do me a favor, will ya, Harry? Drop dead.” Kanin is survived by his wife of the past 10 years, the actress Marian Seldes.

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