Jack Garfein, a prolific actor, director, producer, author, and teacher who worked all around the world, passed away December 30 due to complications from leukemia. The Czechoslovakian-born artist was 89.
Mr. Garfein, who was born July 2, 1930, was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust; in fact, he survived 11 concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and at the end of World War II was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by the British Army.
Mr. Garfein moved to the United States in 1946 to live with his uncle, who resided in New York City. Hoping to become an actor, he won a scholarship to the Dramatic Workshop at The New School, where he studied his craft with German director Erwin Piscator. In 1951 he was invited to attend The Actors Studio, where he directed Calder Willingham's play End as a Man. The play opened Off-Broadway to rave reviews and subsequently transferred to Broadway in 1953.
At the age of 23 Garfein received The Show Business Award as the best director on Broadway; two years later, he was officially invited to become a member of The Actors Studio. He was the first director to receive this honor.
Mr. Garfein would go on to direct three other Broadway productions in the 1950s: N. Richard Nash's Girls of Summer, John McLiam's The Sin of Pat Muldoon, and Sean O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman.
In 1966 Mr. Garfein founded the second branch of The Actors Studio in Los Angeles with Paul Newman. He was also one of the co-founders of New York Theatre Row, where, in 1974, he created The Harold Clurman Theater and, later, The Samuel Beckett Theatre.
During his prolific theatrical career, Mr. Garfein produced and directed over 50 plays. He produced two works by Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Miller on Broadway, The Price and The American Clock, in 1979 and 1980, respectively. Among his other most notable productions: Childhood by Nathalie Sarraute, starring Glenn Close (1985); Rommel's Garden by Harvey Gabor (1985); For No Good Reason by Nathalie Sarraute (1985); Kurt Weill Cabaret with Alvin Epstein and Marta Schlamme (1985); Endgame by Samuel Beckett (1984); The Chekov Sketchbook with Joseph Buloff and John Herd (1981); California Reich and The Lesson by Eugène Ionesco (1978–1979); and The Beckett Plays (Ohio Impromptu, Catastrophe, What Were) in London, Vienna, and Jerusalem (1983-1984). His production of An Address to An Academy by Franz Kafka had a successful run in two theatres in Paris in 2013.
Mr. Garfein was the author of two politically and artistically challenging films that were ultimately censored: The Strange One in 1957, tackling the effects of military psychology on young men, and Something Wild in 1961, which depicted a rape.
Mr. Garfein also created his own acting technique, which he described in his 2010 book, Life and Acting: Techniques for the Actor. He taught the craft of acting for over 40 years in Paris, New York, London, Berlin, Madrid, and Vienna, and in 1985 he founded his own studio, Le Studio Jack Garfein, in Paris. For his teaching work, he was awarded three Masque D’Or awards: for best scene work and as the best acting teacher in France.
Mr. Garfein is survived by Emmy-winning actor Blanche Baker and multi-Grammy-winning classical composer Herschel Garfein, his children with first wife, actor Caroll Baker; microfinance investment officer Rela Garfein and filmmaker Elias Garfein, his children with second wife Anna Larreta; and his wife, Natalia Repolovsky. The two were married in August.