Irene Gilbert: Acting school co-founder 'tried to lift students up to a higher plane,' recalls Holland Taylor
The statement that actress Holland Taylor gave to The Times on the death of Irene Gilbert was a tribute to both Gilbert and her mentor, acclaimed New York acting teacher Stella Adler, who was a devotee of the Method school of acting. Gilbert talked Adler into opening an acting school in Los Angeles in 1985.
Irene's devotion to this technique was based on a profound understanding of the cultural breadth Stella Adler wished for her students -- that they be freed from the cliché notion of self focus popular since the sixties, that navel gazing waste of time certain actors have. She wanted actors to understand the world, and to be IN the world, and to reflect the world. She wanted them to hold a mirror up to nature, not to look into the mirror they used to shave with. Irene tried to lift students up to a higher plane, where they would, like Stella, make a contribution of their own, to this world. Stella was not about celebrity and had no interest in it. She had other values in mind and Irene put this understanding forward.
Adler "was my teacher, my mentor, my friend; very close to being my mother," Gilbert told The Times in 1999. Her mother and father were killed by a drunk driver when she was 5.
Adler was 91 when she died in 1992. Gilbert died May 21 at 76.
A memorial for Gilbert will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 21 the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre-Los Angeles, 6773 Hollywood Blvd.
-- Valerie J. Nelson
Caption: In 1999, Irene Gilbert poses before a portrait of Stella Adler at the Los Angeles acting school. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times