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February 10: Stella Adler

Lawrence Bush
February 10, 2010

Stella_Adler_in_Shadow_of_TStella Adler was born on this day in 1902 in New York to Jacob and Sara Adler, who were luminaries of the Yiddish stage. She was a child actor by four and a star in her own right by the 1920s, before studying Stanislavsky’s “Method” at the American Laboratory Theater (Adler was the only American actor to receive instruction from Stanislavsky himself). There she met Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg who (with Cheryl Crawford) would soon form the Group Theatre, committed to socially relevant plays. Adler joined the Group and married Clurman, but her differences with Strasberg over Method acting techniques led her to leave in 1935. Her acting career flourished in Hollywood and on Broadway, but it was as a theater director and especially as a teacher of acting that she was most highly regarded. By the 1960s, the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting had helped shape the careers of Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Elaine Stritch, Harvey Keitel, Dolores del Rio, and numerous others.
When you stand on the stage you must have a sense that you are addressing the whole world, and that what you say is so important the whole world must listen.” —Stella Adler

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.