Richard Kaplan, acclaimed documentarian, dies at 93

NEW YORK — Richard Kaplan, who directed an Oscar-winning documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt and oversaw production of an acclaimed portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. two years after his assassination, died on Sept. 29 in Manhattan. He was 93.

Mr. Kaplan, whose dream of making scripted feature films had been frustrated by a lack of financing, was making documentaries for about a dozen years when he was asked by producer Sidney Glazier to direct “The Eleanor Roosevelt Story” (1965). Roosevelt had died in 1962, leaving behind a rich history: a shy woman from a privileged background who emerged from the shadow of her husband, Franklin Roosevelt, to become an activist first lady who was often voted the world’s most admired woman.


With a script by poet Archibald MacLeish, narration by newsman Eric Sevareid, and an abundance of photographs and newsreel footage, Mr. Kaplan created a warm portrait.

Two years after the Roosevelt film won the Academy Award for best documentary, Mr. Kaplan began a two-year collaboration with producer Ely Landau on “King: A Filmed Record . . . Montgomery to Memphis.”