Adler, Stella (ădˈlər) [key], 1901–92, American actress, director, and acting teacher, b. New York City. The daughter of Jacob and Sarah Adler, stars in New York's Yiddish theater, she made her acting debut in 1906 in one of her father's productions. A member of the American Laboratory Theater in the 1920s, Adler co-founded (1931) The Group Theatre and was influenced by the ideas of Constantin Stanislavsky, with whom she briefly studied (1934) in the Soviet Union. Returning to The Group Theatre, she performed with the company and taught her modified version of the Stanislavsky method, which emphasized the use of imagination as the basis of acting technique. After a stint (1937–42) in Hollywood, where she acted in films and was a producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), she came back to New York, resumed theatrical acting and directing, taught at the New School, and later founded (1949) her own acting school. Adler, whose students included Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, and many other performers, exerted a profound influence on American acting.
See her Technique of Acting (1988); B. Paris, ed., Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov (1999) and Stella Adler on America's Master Playwrights (2012); H. Kissel, ed., Stella Adler: The Art of Acting (2000); J. Rotté, Acting with Adler (2000).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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