George Shdanoff, actor, director, writer and teacher, died Aug. 14 of natural causes at UCLA Medical Center. He was 92.
Shdanoff was best known as an acting coach whose past students included Jack Palance, Yul Brynner, Robert Stack and Gene Kelly. At the time of his death, he was still involved with teaching a Master Class for working actors Sharon Gless and Anina Lincoln.
The Russian native began his career in Europe, where he acted, directed and wrote for theater and motion pictures in Germany, France and England. The Staatstheater and Volksbuehne theaters in Berlin are among many theaters to house Shdanoff performances.
It was in Berlin where he met longtime professional associate and friend Michael Chekhov. Their partnership began with the formation of the Russian Theater Co.
Later, the two became co-directors of the Chekhov Theater, which was formed in England and subsequently moved to New York. “An Evening of Anton Chekhov’s One-Act Plays and Sketches,” one of their many productions, was performed by Chekhov and Shdanoff themselves.
After the Chekhov Theater dissolved, Shdanoff became a director and teacher at the Actor’s Lab. He also went on to work as a special consultant on numerous film, television and play scripts.
Shdanoff penned several plays throughout his career including “Crime and Punishment” and “The Possessed,” both based on Dostoyevski’s novels of the same names.
He is survived by three nephews. His wife Elsa — who once served an acting coach to thesps at Universal, including Greg-ory Peck and Rex Harrison — died several years ago.
Memorial services are pending.