Sanford Meisner

Active - 1959 - 1976  |   Born - Aug 31, 1905   |   Died - Feb 2, 1997   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Though an actor whose long career included appearances on stage, screen, and television, Sanford Meisner is best known in the entertainment industry as a drama teacher whose distinguished pupils have included Steve McQueen, Diane Keaton, Joel Grey, Maureen Stapleton, Tony Randall, Joanne Woodward, and filmmaker Sydney Pollack. In 1931, he became a charter member of the prestigious Group Theatre along with Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, and others. He twice served as the director of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and trained a number of stars including Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, and Robert Duvall, in addition to such directors as Bob Fosse. He also helped such budding playwrights as David Mamet. Meisner moved to Hollywood in 1959 to direct the talent division at 20th Century Fox until 1961. It was during that time that he began appearing in a few films. In 1970, a diagnosis of throat cancer resulted in his having a laryngectomy. He co-founded the Meisner/Carville School of Acting on the Caribbean island of Bequia in 1985. Three years later, he opened a branch school in Hollywood; it was helmed by Martin Barter. Meisner received the Public Service Award from President George Bush in 1990. In 1995, Meisner, James Carville, and Barter founded the Sanford Meisner Center for the Arts in North Hollywood. Later that year, the 90-year-old Meisner appeared on the NBC television series ER. Meisner passed away in his sleep at his Sherman Oaks, CA home in February 1997.

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