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Milton Katselas (December 22, 1933 – October 24, 2008) was an American film director and famous Hollywood coach for The Beverly Hills Playhouse. He taught such stars as Gene Hackman, Jason Beghe, Jenna Elfman, George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Giovanni Ribisi, Tom Selleck, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ted Danson, Tony Danza, Jeffrey Tambor, Gene Reynolds, Tyne Daly, Mel Harris, Catherine Bell, Sofia Milos, Elizabeth Sung, Doris Roberts, Sheetal Sheth and others.


Milton George Katsalas was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Greek immigrant parents,[1] who owned a small restaurant outside the gates of a Westinghouse Electric plant. When Milton was 14 years old, his father went into the movie theater business and ran a local theater company of Greek actors. Milton Katsalas later adjusted his surname to Katselas.

After high school, he set off for Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) to study theater. On a visit to New York, he sneaked in to watch Lee Strasberg's acting class where he also saw renowned director Elia Kazan on the street and chased him down. "I talked to him in Greek, and he talked with me"... [H]e told me, `When you finish college, come see me.'", Katselas recalled.[2] Following graduation in 1954, he began studying with Strasberg and serving as an apprentice to Kazan.

After working with several other big-name directors, including Joshua Logan, Joseph Anthony, and Sanford Meisner, Katselas struck out on his own, beginning with the original 1960 Off-Broadway production of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story. This was followed by another critical success the following year, Michael Shurtleff's Call Me By My Rightful Name. He was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway production of Leonard Gershe's Butterflies Are Free in 1969, and also directed the 1972 movie version starring Goldie Hawn, Edward Albert, and Eileen Heckart, who won an Academy Award for her role.

In 1973 he reunited with Gershe and Albert for the film version of 40 Carats. His other credits include the Broadway shows Camino Real and The Rose Tattoo, local productions of The Seagull, Romeo and Juliet, and Streamers - all of which won him L.A. Drama Critics Circle awards for best direction.

In 1983, Katselas directed a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives, the only Broadway stage production in which Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton co-starred together. However, after the show was panned in its Boston tryout, Taylor, who was a producer, fired Katselas, yet he retained his directing credit for the Broadway run.[3] He also directed the screen adaptation of Mark Medoff's When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?.

Katselas was active as a writer, painter and acting teacher for over twenty years. He wrote a book titled Dreams Into Action which garnered international attention and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show discussing the book's success. He also wrote "Acting Class: Take a Seat" which is the acting class book of the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

He was a long-time Scientologist, having been introduced to it in 1965, and had attained the Scientology state of Operating Thetan. A number of Hollywood celebrities were introduced to Scientology by means of Katselas' acting workshops.[4][5]

In 2007, he was the victim of a mass email sent by Grant Cardone attacking him on behalf of the Church of Scientology. According to Allen Barton, the owner of the Beverly Hills Playhouse, beginning in 2004, Scientologist actors began leaving the Playhouse, and by 2007, there were no Scientologists left there. [6]

Katselas died of heart failure on October 24, 2008, aged 74, at the Los Angeles hospital Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.[7]

Katselas will be portrayed by actor James Franco in the upcoming Sal Mineo biopic, Sal. Franco will also direct.

^ Dreams Into Action
^ "The Star of His Own Show", BUZZ Magazine, March 1998
^ Brennan, Marie "The Liz and Dick Show", New York Magazine May 9, 1983. Retrieved November 3, 2008
^ Reitman, Janet (2006-02-23). "Inside Scientology". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
^ Oppenheimer, Mark (2007-07-15). "The Actualizer". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
^ http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/06/milton_katselas.php
^ Saperstein, Pat (October 27, 2008). "Acting teacher Milton Katselas dies". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-10-27.

Further reading

Oppenheimer, Mark (September 9, 2007). "Friends, thetans, countrymen". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 2008-10-18.

External links
Wikinews has related news: Acting teacher and director Milton Katselas dies at age 75
Portal icon Scientology portal

Beverly Hills Playhouse
Milton Katselas at the Internet Movie Database
"The Actualizer", The New York Times Magazine, 7/15/2007
The Star of His Own Show, BUZZ Magazine, March 1998
Acting Class: Take a Seat

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