Sisterhood Blog

Cheryl Crawford, Acting Coach to the Stars

By Chana Pollack

  • Print
  • Share Share

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly photo feature in which we sift 116 years of Forward history to find snapshots of women’s lives.

Along with Lee Strasberg (middle) and Harold Clurman (at right), Cheryl Crawford (left) was part of a revolutionary movement in American theater. The trio’s collaborative project, known as the Group Theatre, began in 1930 with a modest series of lectures in Clurman’s apartment, open to the public. Their goal was to produce socially relevant theater and their inspiration was Moscow’s Art Theatre and the Stanislavsky Method (a type of theatrical training created by Russian actor and producer Konstantin Stanislavsky).

One of the few women in theatrical production at the time, Crawford was active in selecting the plays Group Theatre would perform. Inspired by her success in the Group Theatre, Crawford, a lesbian well known to the theater world’s gay social scene, set out to become an independent producer. Along the way, she reportedly influenced the careers of Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Bojangles Robinson, Mary Martin and Tallulah Bankhead to name but a few. In 1947 she co-founded the Actors Studio which trained Marlon Brando, Shelley Winters, Jerome Robbins and Bea Arthur among other talented people. In 1951 Strasberg became the artistic director of the studio.

Crawford’s visionary career spanned five decades and ran the gamut of classics such as Clifford Odets’ “Awake and Sing” to “Yentl.” She produced a hit in her personal life too with partner Ruth Norman, cookbook author and creative partner of culinary legend James Beard. If Crawford’s life was an exciting path in the theatrical arts — her motto was, “There are doors to the inevitable everywhere.” — her passing was just as dramatic. In 1986, at 84 years old, she died of complications from a tragic accident, having been knocked downstairs by a student who was exiting the New Dramatists school for playwrights.

Photo credit Ralph Steiner/Forward Association


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: archives, Throwback Thursday, Jewish, Forverts

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.