The actress who influenced Hollywood’s greats

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A new biography of Adler examines her life and influence as a teacher, from her birth to a prominent Yiddish theatrical family on New York’s lower east side to her marriage to famed director Harold Clurman and her move west in the 1930’s as Hollywood developed into a powerful force.

new_stella_cover250pixels_0“Stella’s teaching is actually the predominant style of teaching that actors practice, but that most actors don’t realize where it’s coming from. They take it for granted that they build a character, that they study the script and understand the justification behind a character’s action,” said Sheana Ochoa, author of the new memoir, Stella! A Life in Art.

Twenty years after her death, her legacy continues in schools that bear her name in New York and Los Angeles.  And yet,  Ochoa’s is the first book to examine her life. “I didn’t decide to write her biography,” Ochoa says. “I had to write her biography to rectify what I saw as an injustice.”

Over the last 13 years, Ochoa has interviewed luminaries and members of Adler’s storied theatrical family to piece together Adler’s life and career.  Here’s our conversation: