“Each of us have a gift, you see, given us freely by the universe. And each of us with every breath gives something back” — Kim Stanley

It’s her birthday today.

A couple things about Kim Stanley, who only appeared in 4 films, but was a hugely influential figure in theatre, live television, and Method acting. I mean, she’s the goddess. Jon Krampner’s 2006 biography of Kim Stanley is called Female Brando. And that’s how everyone talked about her. She inspired a generation. She holds the status of Laurette Taylor in the generation before. It’s so worth your while to track down the shows she did in live television (many are on Youtube). She was a sensation because of these performances. She went deeper, farther in her work than other people did.

I was happy to write about Kim Stanley for Film Comment, which gives good background to this intense and intensely talented woman.

When I interviewed my Actors Studio mentor Sam Schacht, Kim Stanley was a huge topic of conversation. Her work knocked him out as a young striving actor in New York of the 50s. (I quote Sam in the Film Comment piece too.)

And then, when I interviewed Dan Callahan about his book The Art of American Screen Acting, we got into Kim Stanley, and her position in the history of American acting, particularly in re: Lee Strasberg’s Method.

Her four films are The Goddess (based loosely on the life of Marilyn Monroe), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (for which she was nominated for an Oscar), Frances (where she was terrifying as Frances Farmer’s mother) and – the role for which she is most well-known, because the film itself is so iconic – Pancho, the bar owner in the desert in The Right Stuff.

But this is not where you get the full Kim Stanley. Much of her good stuff can not be seen at all, since it was performances on Broadway in the 50s. You have to take the word of people who were there, who saw her in action.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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2 Responses to “Each of us have a gift, you see, given us freely by the universe. And each of us with every breath gives something back” — Kim Stanley

  1. Jon Krampner says:

    Thanks for mentioning my book about Kim. It has an appendix showing the various libraries and archives that have video (and in one case audio) of some of her performances.

    • sheila says:

      Jon – thank you so much! Your book is really important and I really appreciate it.

      As an aspiring acting student in the mid-90s … I think I had only seen Frances and the Right Stuff at that point. In Method circles – the circles in which I moved – she was a stone cold legend.

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