Garfein was once married to actress Carroll Baker.
He took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator. He joined the Actors Studio and married his fellow student, actress Carroll Baker.
Garfein made his Broadway debut as a director with End as a Man starring Ben Gazzara. Notably Garfein produced two plays by Arthur Miller, The Price and The American Clock, and went on to direct other Broadway productions such as The Shadow of a Gunman, The Sin of Pat Muldoon, and Girls of Summer. His Off-Broadway credits include The Lesson and Rommel’s Garden. He directed the French premiere of "Master Harold"...and the Boys in Paris, and the world premiere of Nacht und Träume by Samuel Beckett in Austria.
- Career as film director
Garfein's film directorial debut, The Strange One, is an ensemble piece set in a sadistic Southern military academy. It was released without an ending – leaving audiences bewildered and critics annoyed. A crucial scene involved black actors and, in racially segregated America of 1957, the studio objected on the ground that to use black actors would mean commercial failure. Garfein refused to bow down and filmed the scene anyway. It was denounced by a U.S. Congressman as an 'un-American' film, but in Paris, a critic wrote that if anyone doubted that America was a free country, then they should see the film.
Garfein directed two other films. One was the 1961 independent film, Something Wild, which starred Baker as a young rape victim held captive by the man who rescued her from suicide. The film includes an Aaron Copland score. It was panned by many U.S. critics, even though he was hailed as an American Ingmar Bergman. His documentary The Journey Back chronicles his return to Auschwitz.
- Teaching career
One of a select group of non-performers awarded membership in The Actors Studio, Garfein became director of the Studio's Los Angeles branch in 1966, and created The Harold Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row in New York City. Instructing for more than 40 years, he is one of the most experienced teachers of Method Acting. Garfein offers acting and directing classes in Paris at Le Studio Jack Garfein, London, Budapest, New York, and Los Angeles. He has written a book on the subject, Life and Acting - Techniques for the Actor, published in paperback in 2010.
In September 2010, a tribute to Jack Garfein was presented in Los Angeles at the UCLA Film and Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater which featured screenings of the two feature films he directed, 1957's "The Strange One" and 1961's "Something Wild," which stars his ex-wife Carroll Baker, as well as the documentary "A Journey Back," in which he returned to his childhood home and revisited Auschwitz. A similar event is scheduled for March 20 & 21, 2011 at the Film Forum in New York City.
In July 2012, Jack Garfein was awarded Masque d'Or, voted best acting teacher in France.
- "Jack Garfein tribute at Billy Wilder Theater" Los Angeles Times, Sept. 17, 2010
- Retrieved 14-10-10 Lortel Archives Jack Garfein
- Garfield, David (1980). "Strasberg Takes Over: 1951-1955". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 93. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. "Various directors and playwrights, including Frank Corsaro, Martin Fried, Jack Garfein, Michal V. Gazzo, Charles Gordone, Israel Horovitz, Arthur Penn, Eleanor Perry, Frank Perry, Sidney Pollack, Mark Rydell, Alan Schneider, and John Stix, have also been granted membership on the basis of their contributions to the life and work of The Actors Studio, as have certain other non-performers, such as Liska March and Carl Schaeffer."
- Jack Garfein at the Internet Movie Database
- Jack Garfein on Internet Broadway Database
- Website of Le Studio Jack Garfein, Paris
- Tribute to Jack Garfein, UCLA Film and Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater