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Lee Strasberg papers headed to Library of Congress

April 2, 2012 |  3:09 pm


Lee Strasberg, the acting instructor who promulgated the Method style of acting and nurtured the careers of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino and many more, left behind a wealth of documents and other archival materials when he died in 1982. Now many of those documents will be housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The library said Monday that the papers are a donation by Strasberg's widow, Anna, and their son Adam. The archive is composed of 240 boxes containing correspondence, rehearsal notes, photographs, theatrical drawings and posters, sketches of stage designs and more.

The public will have access to the Strasberg collection once it has been processed, according to the library. A spokeswoman said the library has not released a time frame for that.

The library said that the Strasberg documents are coming from New York, specifically the Strasbergs' apartment and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. The first part of collection arrived in December.

Strasberg co-founded the Group Theatre in 1931 in New York and later became director of the Actors Studio, which he had also co-founded. In the '60s, he launched the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, which has locations in New York and Los Angeles. (The L.A. location is on Santa Monica Boulevard near West Hollywood.)

In his numerous jobs, Strasberg taught or mentored many actors who would go on to reach international fame. In addition to the aforementioned stars, they included Montgomery Clift, Anne Bancroft, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman and director Elia Kazan. In the recent movie "My Week With Marilyn," Strasberg's previous wife, Paula, is shown as Marilyn Monroe's private acting coach during the filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl," with Laurence Olivier.

Strasberg championed Method acting, in which performers draw on their personal memories and experiences to conjure emotions.

Strasberg directed numerous stage productions in New York during his long career, but for many, he will be remembered principally for his Oscar-nominated role as gangster Hyman Roth in "The Godfather: Part II."


Theater review: 'Girls Talk' at the Lee Strasberg Theatre

Lee Strasberg: The acting legacy lives on

-- David Ng

Photo: Lee Strasberg in Los Angeles in 1978. Credit: Los Angeles Times