Al Pacino Happily Recalls His Coach
The New York theater community gathered at Broadway's Minskoff Theater Monday night to celebrate the what would have been the 100th birthday of legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, the man still credited with teaching Marilyn Monroe to take herself seriously. PEOPLE reports that those attending the celebration included Joe Bologna and wife Renee Taylor, Kathie Lee Gifford and hubby Frank Gifford, "Amadeus" Best Actor winner F. Murray Abraham, Marlo Thomas, Celeste Holm, Ellen Burstyn and Al Pacino, as well as Strasberg's widow, Anna Strasberg. As part of the remembrance, a movie clip was shown of Strasberg playing Mafia kingpin Hyman Roth to Pacino's Michael Corleone in the 1974 classic "The Godfather Part II." (Strasberg was also Pacino's acting coach.) That was followed with video clips of Whoopi Goldberg, Sophia Loren, Alec Baldwin and Paul Newman each paying tribute to Strasberg. There was also a vintage clip of Newman and Rod Steiger singing "Happy Birthday" to their mentor when he was still alive. (Strasberg died in 1982.) Pacino told PEOPLE, "It's very rewarding that someone like Lee is remembered so vividly after 20 years of his passing . . . I've done several occasions where I've spoken about Lee, and I never get it right. By the time I find just the right touch, it's too late. I always try to convey his humor that he had." Pacino recalled one particular incident involving Strasberg at his summer home on New York's Fire Island. "And he'd just stand by the water and watch, observe," said Pacino, 61. "One day, he was watching while everybody was in the water and everyone was jumping up and down having a great time. They called out to Lee, 'C'mon! Join us!' And Lee just looked at them and said, 'I don't want to get involved.' "
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