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Stella Adler (1901–1992)

Author of The Art of Acting

Includes the names: Stella Adler

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Stella Adler was born in New York City into a famous acting family rooted in the Yiddish theater. All five of her siblings also became actors. She made her stage debut at age 4, sometimes playing boys as well as girls. She made her Broadway debut in 1922, in the play The World We Live In. In 1922–1923, she saw the celebrated Russian actor-director Konstantin Stanislavsky and his Moscow Art Theatre on their only USA tour. The performances had a powerful and lasting impact on her career. In 1931 she joined the Group Theatre in New York, founded by Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford; it was a creative haven for actors, directors, and playwrights. She later married Harold Clurman in 1943. In 1934, Adler went to Paris with Clurman and studied intensively with Stanislavsky for five weeks. In 1937, Stella Adler moved to Hollywood, where she acted in films for six years, occasionally returning to the Group Theater until it dissolved in 1941. Eventually she returned to New York City to act, direct and teach. In 1949, she founded the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, where she taught many actors who went on to fame, including Marlon Brando, Judy Garland, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Warren Beatty. She also taught at the New School, the Yale School of Drama, and New York University. Her teaching was said to be passionate, scholarly, blunt, and volatile, and her students spellbound by her in class. In 1988, she published her book The Technique of Acting. After parting from Harold Clurman, Stella married Mitchell A. Wilson, a physicist and novelist.
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