Lee Strasberg's teachings inspired a generation of American "method" actors to create a fresh style of naturalistic performing.
It was actor Al Pacino who coaxed Strasberg into his first film role, the 1974 portrayal of an underworld figure in "Godfather II." It won Strasberg an Academy Award nomination, and he later took parts in such films as "... And Justice for All" and "Going in Style."
But legitimate theater was Strasberg's first and enduring love, and he mastered all parts of it: acting, stage managing and directing. "Theater is the most direct of all arts," he said. "Only theater uses the living presence."
Nonetheless, many of the students of Strasberg's renowned Actors Studio — among them James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando — made their names in movies, and 128 Strasberg proteges have received or been nominated for acting's top three honors: Oscar, Tony and Emmy.
The stage, which he was later to influence so profoundly, gave the teenage Strasberg his first job — working in a theatrical wig factory in New York. The stage also provided Strasberg's last public appearance: He danced in a chorus line with the Rockettes in a Radio City Music Hall benefit production, "Night of the 100 Stars."
Still, it was Strasberg's teaching abilities, more than his acting, that brought fame to him and to his students. Products of the selective Actors Studio workshop, which Strasberg joined as artistic director in 1948, also include Patricia Neal, Rod Steiger, Anne Bancroft, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman and Julie Harris.
|1974||Best Supporting Actor||The Godfather Part II||Nomination|