Luther Adler (May 4, 1903 – December 8, 1984) was an American actor
best known for his work in theatre, but who also worked in film and
television. He also directed plays on Broadway.
1 Early life and career
2 Years in the Group Theatre
3 After the Group Theatre
4 Film and television career
5 Private Life
6.1 As an actor
6.2 As himself
9 External links
Early life and career
Lutha Adler was born on May 4, 1903 in New York City. He was one of
the six children of Russian Jewish actors Sara and Jacob P. Adler. His
father was considered to be one of the founders of the Yiddish theatre
in America. His siblings also worked in theatre; his sister Stella
Adler achieved fame as an actress and drama teacher. His brother Jay
also achieved some fame as an actor.
Adler's father gave him his first acting job in the Yiddish play,
Schmendrick, at the Thalia Theatre in Manhattan in 1908; Adler was
then 5 years old. His first Broadway plays were The Hand of the
Potter in 1921; Humoresque in 1923; Monkey Talks in 1925; Money
Business and We Americans in 1926; John in 1927; Red Rust (or Rust)
and Street Scene in 1929.
Years in the Group Theatre
Luther Adler (back row, second from left) with members of the Group
Theatre in 1938
Luther Adler and his sister Stella in a 1936 publicity photo for their
appearance in the Group Theater production of Awake and Sing!
In 1931 Adler became one of the original members of the Group Theatre
(New York), a
New York City
New York City theatre collective formed by Cheryl
Crawford, Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg. The founders, as well as
the actors in the group, "tended to hold left-wing political views and
wanted to produce plays that dealt with important social issues."
The collective lasted for ten years, had twenty productions, and
served as an inspiration for many actors, directors, and playwrights
who came after it. During those years, the Group's members included
Luther, Luther's sister and brother,
Stella Adler and Jay Adler, Elia
Kazan, John Garfield, Paul Green (playwright), Howard Da Silva, Harry
Morgan (billed as Harry Bratsburg), Franchot Tone, John Randolph,
Joseph Bromberg, Michael Gordon, Will Geer,
Clifford Odets and Lee J.
Elia Kazan considered Adler to be the best actor working in
In 1932 Adler starred in John Howard Lawson's, Success Story and
garnered rave reviews for his performance. In 1933 Adler briefly
Katherine Cornell Company, playing opposite Cornell in
Alien Corn, but in 1934 he returned to the Group and played
alongside his sister Stella in the Gold Eagle Guy. Unfortunately Gold
Eagle Guy was not popular with audiences and had a short run. Adler
had suspected the play would not succeed, remarking, shortly before it
opened, "Boys, I think we're working on a stiff." Adler went on to
Group Theatre (New York)
Group Theatre (New York) productions:
Awake and Sing!
Awake and Sing! and
Paradise Lost (both 1935), and he performed with
Frances Farmer in
Golden Boy (1937). He also appeared in Kurt Weill's anti-war
musical Johnny Johnson (1936) and originated the role of Captain
Joshua in the 1939 Group Theater production of Thunder Rock. "By the
late 1930s... the cohesiveness of the group began to crumble. The
chronic financial problems and long-simmering disputes about 'the
method' began to chip away at their solidarity... and in 1941 the
After the Group Theatre
By the early 1940s Adler began to direct, but his first production
They Should Have Stood in Bed closed after only eleven performances in
1942. His next directorial venture, A Flag is Born, ran for 120
performances in 1946 and featured newcomer
Marlon Brando in one of the
major roles. In 1965, when
Zero Mostel left the Broadway cast of
Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof during a contract dispute, Adler took over the
role of Tevye.
Film and television career
In 1937 Adler began to appear in films, although they were never his
highest priority. His credits included
Wake of the Red Witch
Wake of the Red Witch (1948),
House of Strangers
House of Strangers (1949), D.O.A. (1950), The Desert Fox: The Story of
Rommel (1951) (appearing as Hitler), M (1951), Voyage of the Damned
Absence of Malice
Absence of Malice (1981).
He also acted frequently on television in such programs as the
anthology series, Crossroads, General Electric Theater, Kraft
Television Theater and Robert Montgomery Presents. He guest-starred in
1960 in the science fiction fantasy series, The Twilight Zone as the
poor pawnbroker Arthur Castle, with
Vivi Janiss as his wife Edna, in
the episode entitled "The Man in the Bottle." in the story line, a
genie offers the couple four wishes which do not lead to happiness. He
was also cast in episodes of The Untouchables, Ben Casey, 77 Sunset
Strip, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, most notably in the series'
only three-part episode "'V' for Vashon", The Streets of San
Francisco, Naked City and Route 66.
Adler was married to actress
Sylvia Sidney from 1938 until 1946 and
was the father of Sidney's only child, her son Jacob, who predeceased
He died in
Kutztown, Pennsylvania and was buried in Mount Carmel
Cemetery, Glendale, New York, next to several of his relatives,
including his older sister Stella.
As an actor
Lancer Spy (1937) ... Schratt
Cornered (1945) ... Marcel Jarnac
Saigon (1948) ... Lt. Keon
The Loves of Carmen (1948) ... Dancaire
Wake of the Red Witch
Wake of the Red Witch (1948) ... Mayrant Ruysdaal Sidneye
House of Strangers
House of Strangers (1949) ... Joe Monetti
Under My Skin (1950) ... Louis Bork
D.O.A. (1950) ... Majak
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) ... Keith 'Cherokee' Mandon
South Sea Sinner (1950) ... Cognac
Somerset Maugham TV Theatre (1951) (TV Series)
M (1951) ... Dan Langley
Faith Baldwin Romance Theatre (1951) (TV Series)
The Magic Face (1951) ... Rudi Janus/Adolf Hitler
The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) ... Adolf Hitler
Hoodlum Empire (1952) ... Nick Mansani
The Tall Texan (1953) ... John Tinnen
The Mask (1954) (TV Series)
The Motorola Television Hour (1954) (TV Series) ... General Fox
The Miami Story
The Miami Story (1954) ... Tony Brill
Center Stage (1954) (TV Series) ... Jubal Banks
The United States Steel Hour
The United States Steel Hour (1954) (TV Series) (1954, 1956) ... Judge
Brock (1954), Sidney West (1956)
Studio One (1954) (TV Series) (1954, 1956) ... Joe Rundle
General Electric Theater
General Electric Theater (1954) (TV Series) (1954–1955) ... Warner
Kraft Television Theatre
Kraft Television Theatre (1955) (TV Series)
Crashout (1955) ... Pete Mendoza
Robert Montgomery Presents
Robert Montgomery Presents (1955) (TV Series)
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) ... Delphin Delmas
Crossroads (1955) (TV Series) ... Rabbi Rosenblum
Hot Blood (1956) ... Marco Torino
Playhouse 90 (1958) (TV Series) (1958–1959) ... Garvin (1958),
Molotov (1958), Irving Werner (1959)
The Last Angry Man
The Last Angry Man (1959) ... Dr. Max Vogel
A Month in the Country (1959) (TV) ... Ignaty Illyich Shpichelsky
Play of the Week (1959) (TV Series) ... Ignaty Illyich
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (1960) (TV Series) ... Sal Raimondi
The Twilight Zone (1960) (TV Series) ... Arthur Castle (episode "The
Man in the Bottle")
The Untouchables (1960) (TV Series) (1960–1962) ... Gus Marco
(1960), Emile Bouchard (1961), Charlie Zenko (1962)
Naked City (1960) (TV Series) (1960–1962) ... Sean Wicklow (1960),
Willard Manson (1961), Henri Tourelle (1961), Mr. Kovar (1962)
The Islanders (1961) (TV Series) ... Frank Fellino
The DuPont Show of the Month
The DuPont Show of the Month (1961) (TV Series)
Straightaway (1961) (TV Series)
Target: The Corruptors (1961) (TV Series) (1961–1962) ... Victor
Cobalt (1961), Jonathan (1962)
Ben Casey (1961) (TV Series) (1961, 1963) ... Dr. Michael Waldman ...
episode ... The Insolent Heart (1961), Dr. Bowersox ... episode ...
The White Ones Are Dolphins (1963)
Route 66 (1962) (TV Series) ... Harry Wender
77 Sunset Strip
77 Sunset Strip (1963) (TV Series) ... Thomas Allen
Cast a Giant Shadow
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) ... Jacob Zion
The Three Sisters (1966) ... Chebutykin
The Sunshine Patriot (1968) (TV) ... Imre Hyneck
The Brotherhood (1968) ... Dominick Bertolo
Mission: Impossible (1970) (TV Series) ... Leo Vorka ... episode ...
The Name of the Game (1970) (TV Series) ... Marc Osborne
The Psychiatrist: God Bless the Children (1970) (TV) ... Dr. Bernard
The Psychiatrist (1971) (TV Series) ... Dr. Bernard Altman
Hawaii Five-O (1972) (TV Series) (1972, 1974) ... Dominick Vashon ...
episodes ... 'V' for Vashon: The Son, 'V' for Vashon: The Father,
& 'V' for Vashon: The Patriarch (1972), Charles Ogden ... episode
... How to Steal a Masterpiece (1974)
Search (1973) (TV Series) ... Vollmar
Chelsea D.H.O. (1973) (TV) ... Dr. Levine, M.E.
Hec Ramsey (1973) (TV Series) ... Victor Bordon ... episode ... The
Crazy Joe (1974) ... Falco
Hawaii Five-O (1975) (TV Series) ... Archive Footage ... Dominick
Vashon ... episode ... The Case Against McGarrett
The Streets of San Francisco
The Streets of San Francisco (1974) (TV Series) ... Victor ... episode
... Mister Nobody
The Man in the Glass Booth
The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) ... Presiding Judge
Live A Little, Steal A Lot (1975) ... Max 'The Eye'
Mean Johnny Barrows
Mean Johnny Barrows (1976) ... Don Racconi
Voyage of the Damned
Voyage of the Damned (1976) ... Prof. Weiler
Absence of Malice
Absence of Malice (1981) ... Malderone (Last appearance)
The Making of '
Absence of Malice
Absence of Malice (1982) (TV)
^ a b Saxon & 9 December 1984.
^ a b Hischak & January 2003, p. 4.
Luther Adler Director, Performer.
^ a b Simkin & September 1997.
^ a b About the Group Theatre - American Masters & 29 December
^ Kazan 2010, p. 13.
^ Clurman 1967, p. 101.
^ Clurman 1967, p. 110.
^ Clurman 1967, p. 142.
^ Inside the Playbill: Golden Boy - Feb 1938 at Belasco Theatre.
^ Hischak & 2 June 2008, p. 379.
"About the Group Theatre - American Masters". pbs.org. Public
Broadcasting System. 29 December 1997. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
Clurman, Harold (1967). The Fervent Years: The Story of the Group
Theatre and the Thirties. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.
ISBN 9780786747214. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
Hischak, Thomas S. (1 January 2003). Enter the Players: New York Stage
Actors in the Twentieth Century. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
p. 4. ISBN 9780810847613. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
Hischak, Thomas S. (2 June 2008). The Oxford Companion to the American
Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television. New York, NY: Oxford
University Press. p. 379. ISBN 9780195335330. Retrieved 6
Kazan, Elia (2010). Kazan on Directing. New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday
Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307277046. Retrieved 3 October
"Inside the Playbill: Golden Boy - Feb 1938 at Belasco Theatre".
playbillvault.com. Playbill. Archived from the original on 6 October
2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
Luther Adler Director, Performer". playbillvault.com. Playbill.
Retrieved 6 October 2014.
Saxon, Wolfgang (9 December 1984). "Luther Adler, Actor, Is Dead". The
New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
Simkin, John (September 1997). "Luther Adler".
spartacus-educational.com. Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 3 October
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Luther Adler.
Luther Adler on IMDb
Luther Adler at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Luther Adler at AllMovie
Luther Adler at Find a Grave
Luther Adler papers, 1890-1984, held by the Billy Rose Theatre
Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
ISNI: 0000 0000 5485 6753
BNF: cb139300838 (data)