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Lee Strasberg
Lee Strasberg (born Israel Strassberg; November 17, 1901 – February 17, 1982) was an American actor, director and acting teacher born in Galicia (Eastern Europe), Austria-Hungary. He cofounded, with directors Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford, the Group Theatre in 1931, which was hailed as "America's first true theatrical collective". In 1951, he became director of the non-profit Actors Studio, in New York City, considered "the nation's most prestigious acting school", and in 1966, was involved in the creation of Actors Studio West in Los Angeles. Although other highly regarded teachers have also taught "The Method", it is Strasberg who is considered the "father of method acting in America," according to author Mel Gussow, and from the 1920s until his death in 1982 "he revolutionized the art of acting by having a profound influence on performance in American theater and movies". From his base in New York, he trained several generations of theatre and film's most illustrious talents, including Barbra Streisand, Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, Julie Harris, Paul Newman, Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and director Elia Kazan. By 1970, Strasberg had become less involved with the Actors Studio, and with his third wife Anna opened the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute with branches in in New York City and in Hollywood to continue teaching the Stanislavski techniques which he had interpreted and developed for contemporary actors. The Institute's primary stated goal was "to reach a larger audience of eager and emerging talent" than was served by the Actors Studio's notoriously selective admission process, ., and as teachers of The Method began to deploy their own personal interpretations of the discipline, "to dispel growing confusion and misrepresentation of the Method, preserving what had by now become fundamental discoveries in actor training." Former student Elia Kazan directed James Dean in East of Eden (1955), for which Kazan and Dean were nominated for Academy Awards. As a student, Dean wrote that Actors Studio was "the greatest school of the theater the best thing that can happen to an actor". Playwright Tennessee Williams, writer of A Streetcar Named Desire, said of Strasberg's actors, "They act from the inside out. They communicate emotions they really feel. They give you a sense of life." Directors like Sidney Lumet, a former student, have intentionally used actors skilled in Strasberg's "Method". Kazan, in his autobiography, wrote, "He 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.'" :61 Today, Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel lead this nonprofit studio dedicated to the development of actors, playwrights, and directors. As an actor, Strasberg is probably best known for his supporting role as gangster Hyman Roth alongside his former student Al Pacino in Godfather II (1974), a role he took at Pacino's suggestion, and which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also appeared in ...And Justice for All (1979). Strasberg's personal papers, including photos, are archived at the Library of Congress.

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photo Lee Strasberg
Background photo by Giuliana