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Lee Strasberg

(1901—1982) American actor, director, and drama teacher, born in Austria

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Polish-born US actor, director, and teacher of ‘method’ acting at the Actors' Studio.

Born at Budzanow, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire, Strasberg went to the USA with his family as a child of nine. He trained as an actor at the American Laboratory Theater under Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya but found little success in the theatre until he was appointed, in 1948, artistic director of the Actors' Studio, which had been founded the previous year by Elia Kazan and others. Strasberg became a highly influential proponent of the ‘method’ style of acting. His subsequent status as the teacher and mentor of Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rod Steiger, Marilyn Monroe, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino was recognized in 1969 when he became head of the Lee Strasberg Institute of the Theater. His portrayal of the ailing Jewish gangster Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II (1974) enabled him to embark on a secondary career in cameo screen roles. He was the father of the actress Susan Strasberg (1938– ).

Subjects: Performing artsTheatre

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