Marilyn Munroe and the Actors Studio
Marilyn was introduced to Lee Strasberg early in 1955. Strasberg had been the artistic director of the Actors Studio since 1948 and was principally known for the Method, an approach to the art of acting based on the teachings of Konstantin Stanislavsky.
Marilyn Munroe was deeply concerned with her identity throughout her life. Babtised as Norma Jeane Baker and abandoned by her mother, she spent much of her childhood in foster homes. As a high profile actress people frequently confused her image with her true self. These factors combined with her quest for an inner peace hint at an answer to the attraction of Strasberg’s teachings.
Strasberg worked with all the heavies, James Dean, Paul Newman, Montgomery Clift, Robert De Niro, Steve McQueen, Jane Fonda, and Al Pacino. But he maintained that the two greatest were Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.
At this time she also entered analysis but never fully managed to overcome her inner battle; she regarded “Marilyn Monroe” and her true self as two different entities.
On her death Marilyn Monroe willed the control of 75% of her estate to Lee Strasberg, including the licensing of her image, as gratitude for his mentorship and kindness.
Others who have been associated with the Actors Studio include Edward Albee, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Sidney Lumet, Norman Mailer, Steve McQueen, Sean Penn, Sidney Poitier, Tennessee Williams and Shelley Winters.
“The truth concerning the passions, verisimilitude in the feelings experienced in the given circumstances, that is what our intelligence demands of a dramatist.”
“Create your own method. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you.” Konstantin Stanislavsky
There is an interesting two-part documentary on the relationship between Munroe and Strasberg, which is well worth a few minutes of your time: