Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901)

Lee Strasberg, actor, director, and coach to many famous stars, was one of the founders of the Group Theater with Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford in 1931. He later headed the Actor's Studio. From the Actors' Studio history:
In 1948, Lee Strasberg was asked by Elia Kazan to join the Studio as one of its teachers and in 1951 he became its Artistic Director, a position he maintained until his death in 1982. Strasberg’s deep understanding of the Stanislavski System and the reformulations of Vakhtangov, together with his own personal discoveries and improvements on the acting process, provided the foundation on which the Actors Studio based its work.

At the same time the work of Elia Kazan as a theatre and film director demonstrated in the most powerful way the extraordinary results of the deep and personal process of acting espoused by the Actors Studio.
Strasberg's family immigrated to New York early in his life. His first acting experience was in the Yiddish theater, and he is well-known as a director and as the influential leader of the Actors' Studio and its predecessor the and the most important American proponent of method acting. He was also important for his influence on Hollywood actors -- especially on Marilyn Monroe; the photo above shows them together.

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, Kazan, in his autobiography, wrote that Strasberg "carried with him the aura of a prophet, a magician, a witch doctor, a psychoanalyst, and a feared father of a Jewish home.... [H]e was the force that held the thirty-odd members of the theatre together, and made them 'permanent.'"

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