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Stella Adler

February 10, 2018

Stella Adler was born on New York City’s Lower East Side on this date in 1902 to Sara Adler (Levitskaya) and Jacob Adler, who were luminaries of the Yiddish stage; actress Celia Adler was her half-sister. Stella Adler 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 ever to receive instruction from Stanislavsky himself.) There she met Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg, who (along 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 (now the “Stella Adler Studio of Acting”) had helped shape the careers of Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, Harvey Keitel, Dolores del Rio, and numerous others. Adler died in Los Angeles in 1992.

“The word ‘theatre’ comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time.” —Stella Adler