Charles E. Conrad

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Charles Erich Conrad (May 23, 1925 – October 29, 2009) was an American actor and acting coach.

Early years[edit]

Born in New York City, the only child of German immigrants, Charles Conrad spent his early years growing up in New York City’s upper east side. At age of 17, he escaped the tenements that lined 89th street and joined the Navy; where he served as an armed guard on Merchant ships during World War II. Shortly after his discharge from the service, he returned to high school, earned his diploma and was immediately accepted to Adelphi college where he majored in English. His education continued at the Carnegie Institute of Technology where he studied theater Directing, graduating with a master's degree. It was his directorial thesis of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya that earned him a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

As he once relayed to a good friend, "I didn't have the money to get to London so I just turned it down. It was a decision I came to regret many times over.” In 1952, he began studying the craft of acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. After seeing Conrad direct a series of several short stories, Meisner recognized his talent and prospects as a future acting teacher and promptly made him his senior assistant.

CEC studio[edit]

In the early 1960s, Meisner commissioned Charles Conrad with the task of training contract players at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. But the excitement of moving from New York to the West Coast and from a salary of $95.00 a week at the Neighborhood Playhouse to $45,000 a year at Fox was short lived when studio's proposed acting program fell through. His tenure as Meisner's longtime assistant earned him a reputation as a gifted teacher that paved the way for the opening his own studio where he would define and redefine the Meisner Technique.

End of an era[edit]

In 1993, the much revered teacher decided to gradually retire and moved to Sedona, Arizona where he’d commute on a once a week basis to his studio in Burbank. By early 1994 was fully retired and lived in a secluded area on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state with his wife Pam and their 12 barking disciples. He died, aged 84, from kidney failure on October 29, 2009.[1]

Conrad quotations[edit]

“Concentration away from yourself is the creative source of acting for film & television.”

“I’ve worked with so many actors with great looks who can easily describe a bowl of fruit, but don’t know how to let the audience taste it.”

“I really hate the word scene because it denotes and encourages fake acting.”

“Learning film acting without cameras is like trying to give horseback riding lessons without a horse.”

"Sharon Tate, such a beautiful girl, you would have thought she would have all the confidence in the world. But she had none."

“If you don’t know who you are you’ll never be an actor.”

“Rather than giving a non-confident actor a one hundred pound bar bell and asking him to lift over his head so it’ll crush him, you simply give him a helium filled Balloon with the words, 100 pounds written on it until and gradually substitute one for the other.”



  • Judy Kerr. "Acting Is Everything: An Actor's Guidebook for a Successful Career in Los Angeles" (11th ed; 2006). September Publishing; ISBN 0-9629496-6-3

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