Stella Adler

American actress and acting teacher (1901–1992)

Stella Adler (February 10, 1901December 21, 1992) was an American actress and an acclaimed acting teacher.

Adler in 1941


  • It takes three things to make it in this business: the tenacity of a bulldog, the hide of a rhinoceros and a good home to come home to.
    • Quoted in "The Advocate", 2 Feb 1999, p. 44
  • The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.
    • Quoted in Joan E. Kole, "Theatre and Aging" (2009), p. 1
  • In your choices lies your talent.
    • Quoted in Mark Ruffalo & James Lipton, "Stella Adler Technique" [1]
  • Acting requires a creative and compassionate attitude. It must aim to lift life up to a higher level of meaning and not tear it down or demean it. The actor's search is a generous quest for that larger meaning. That's why acting is never to be done passively. [2]

Obituary in New York Times


  • The teacher has to inspire, to agitate. You cannot teach acting. You can only stimulate what's already there.
  • Your talent is in your imagination. The rest is lice.
  • You must get away from the real thing because the real thing will limit your acting and cripple you. To think of your own mother's death each time you want to cry onstage is schizophrenic and sick.
  • Use your creative imagination to create a past that belongs to your character. I don't want you to be stuck with your own life. It's too little.
  • You can't be boring. Life is boring. The weather is boring. Actors must not be boring.
  • Get a stage tone, darling, an energy. Never go on stage without your motor running.


  • Stella is theatrical royalty who instills in her students a sense of the nobility of acting. She dares her students to act, to lift their bodies and their voices, to be larger than themselves, to love language and ideas.
    • Foster Hirsch, "A Method to Their Madness" (1984), quoted in [3]
  • Stella Adler was much more than a teacher of acting. Through her work she imparts the most valuable kind of information - how to discover the nature of our own emotional mechanics and therefore those of others. She never lent herself to vulgar exploitations, as some other well-known so-called "methods" of acting have done. As a result, her contributions to the theatrical culture have remained largely unknown, unrecognized, and unappreciated.
    • Marlon Brando, preface to Stella Adler: The Art of Acting (2000), ed. Howard Kissel, p. 7
  • What an extraordinary combination was Stella Adler - a goddess of full of magic and mystery, a child full of innocence and vulnerability.
    • Elaine Stritch, attributed without citation in Robert Barton, Acting: Onstage and Off (2009), p. 158
  • [Adler] established the value of the actor putting himself in the place of the character rather than vice versa … More than anyone else, Stella Adler brought into public awareness all the close careful attention to text and analysis Stanislavski endorsed.
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