Stella! A Life in Art — the Biography

Stella Adler

Image by Amy Widdowson via Flickr

Arthur Miller decided to become a playwright after seeing her perform with the Group Theatre. Marlon Brando attributed his acting to her genius as a teacher.  Playwright Jerome Lawrence concluded she found meanings in his plays that even he was not aware existed. 

Stella! A Life in Art is the first biography of Stella Adler, chronicling her journey from the Yiddish Theatre on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to starring on Broadway and in Hollywood to helping revolutionize modern day acting. 

Clifford Odets, Stella and Luther Adler

Clifford Odets, Stella and Luther Adler

From her Depression-era plays with the Group Theatre to her covert freedom fighting work leading to the rescue of hundreds of Jewish refugees during the 40s, Stella used her talent and notoriety as tools for change. 

Her life story is as much an account of the sociopolitical milieu of the 20th century as it is of the evolution of contemporary acting. 

Always “on stage,” Stella’s magnetism also served as the costume she donned in order to reconcile a deep sense of not belonging in the world.  Art was forever her savior. Through her emphasis on the actor, not merely as an interpreter, but as an artist who imagines and creates, her teachings continue to capturaudiences on stages and screens around the world.

Stella in "Love on Toast" (1938)

Stella in “Love on Toast” (1938)

Who was Stella? How was she so instrumental in igniting the talent of such actors as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Shelley Winters, Benicio Del Toro?  What made her devote her life to the craft of acting?  

Adler and Payne in a Scene from

Stella Adler with John Payne in “Love on Toast”

How was such an imperialistic grande dame a member of the democratic theatrical company known as the Group Theatre? What was her role in securing passage for 700 displaced Jews during and after WWII?

Why did she leave Broadway and Hollywood to teach?  Why did the FBI and the Department of Army keep records of Stella’s every move during the 40s and 50s? What exactly was the debate between Stella and  Lee Strasberg whose “Method” acting rubbed her the wrong way? What is “Method” acting and how does it differ from Stella’s technique?

Stella! A Life in Art takes you through the life and times of a luminary who has been described as a force of nature. Stella revered the actor as the aristocrat of society who both nourishes and serves his culture through his greatest tool: the imagination.

(Stella! A Life in Art is due out in 2014; you can purchase it at this page)


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