26 May, 2012
Richard Boleslavsky was a Polish film director, actor and teacher of acting.
Richard Boleslavsky was born Bolesław Ryszard Srzednicki on February 4, 1889 in Dębowa Góra, in tsarist Russia-ruled Poland. He graduated from the Tver Cavalry Officers School. He trained as an actor at the First Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre under Konstantin Stanislavski and his assistant Leopold Sulerzhitsky, where he was introduced to the 'system'.
During World War I, Boleslavsky fought as a cavalry lieutenant on the tsarist Russian side until the fall of the Russian Empire. He left Russia after the October Revolution of 1917 for his native Poland, where he directed his first movies. As his birth name was difficult to pronounce (even for Poles), he took the name Ryszard Bolesławski. His Miracle at the Vistula (Cud nad Wisłą) was a semi-documentary about the miraculous victory of the Poles at the Vistula River over the superior Soviet Russian forces during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921.
In the 1920s, he made his way to New York City, where, now known as "Richard Boleslavsky" (the English spelling of his name), he began to teach Stanislavski's 'system' (which, in the US, developed into Method acting) with fellow émigré Maria Ouspenskaya. In 1923, he founded the American Laboratory Theatre in New York. Among his students were Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Harold Clurman, who were all founding members of the Group Theatre (1931–1940), the first American acting ensemble to utilize Stanislavski's techniques.
Offered a contract to direct Hollywood films, Boleslavsky made several significant films with some of the major stars of the day, until his death a few weeks short of his 48th birthday, on January 17, 1937. He is interred in the Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Boleslavsky has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.