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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Charles Jehlinger

You may not have heard of acting teacher Charles Jehlinger. He was the head teacher at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts from 1923 until his death in 1952. He had been one of the first graduates there. He did not write a book and he refused to do any interviews. Those who worked with him considered him to be one of the great teachers. Charles Jehlinger taught Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Hume Cronyn, Edward G. Robinson, Anne Bancroft, Robert Redford, among many others. 

Quotes of Charles Jehlinger:

"Don't think of acting; think of living."*

"Life is the only true school of acting."*

"Human impulse is the only thing that counts, not stage directions."*

A typical remark of his after seeing a student actor audition:

"Crude, but there are possibilities."*

The only compliment he ever gave Anne Bancroft while she studied with him:

"You're on track."* 

John Cassavetes on American Academy of Dramatic Arts**: 

Colleen Dewhurst:

If he wanted people not to know about him, he was successful. (His wikipedia page is in German:

He had a student, Don Richardson, who also became a teacher and then wrote a book (Acting without Agony) that is supposedly teaching the Jehlinger approach to acting. 

Acting without Agony book: (.PDF)

Below are a few stories about Charles Jehlinger from Kirk Douglas' autobiography 
The Ragman's Son:

That's all he wrote about Jehlinger, but this is a really good book. The next book is Hume Cronyn's autobiography, A Terrible Liar.  This book gets going halfway through. He really did accomplish a lot, and much of it with his wife, Jessica Tandy.

“There is no limit to the art of acting. You need the understanding of all human nature, the sense of beauty of the artist and poet, the sense of rhythm of the dancer and musician, the mentality of a philosopher and scientist. It is the universal art.”

Charles Jehlinger


*notes from Doug Daniel on his upcoming biography of Anne Bancroft.

**"Cassavetes on Cassavetes"

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