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Allan Miller talks about one of his favorite student's Barbra Streisand
Actor/Director/Writer - Allan Miller
Allan Miller's Student Barbra Streisand
I sat on the edge of my seat as Allan Miller told me the story of an awkward fifteen-year-old girl, that his wife at the time, actress Anita Cooper, brought home one night for dinner. Cooper told Streisand that her husband was a well known acting teacher and might be able to offer some advice about getting into show biz.
At the time Streisand was a cashier at a local Chinese restaurant. She met Cooper backstage at a well known off Broadway theater as an apprentice.
At their house for dinner, Miller noticed that Streisand had an insatiable desire for everything, however her voice didn't match her facial expressions and her hand gestures were that of a baby. Miller told me, "I felt sorry for her and offered her to come to one of my classes for free." He added, "she kept coming to my classes, so we had her help babysit our kids to offset the fee for my classes." For about six months, Streisand lived with him and his family.
One night she mentioned to the couple that she won a finalist spot at a local talent show in a coffee house. She asked if they would be in the audience to support her.
The night of her show, Miller said, "She came out onstage with clothes that didn't match and hair that went straight up to the ceiling." Instead of performing a monologue, Streisand sang. "She was terrific and won," Miller said. Even though she had a passion for acting, Streisand had a gifted voice that both Miller and Cooper were unaware of until that night.
When Streisand was cast in Funny Girl, Miller coached and directed her for the show.
Three's A Charm for Allan Miller
This is Allan Miller's third time starring in the Neil Simon production of Broadway Bound.
The first time was in 2009 on Broadway. The producers cast an in-repertory Broadway production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound.
Audiences would first see Brighton Beach Memoirs and then the continuation of the story in Broadway Bound. Miller told me, "Unfortunately, Brighton Beach Memoirs opened at the Nederlander Theatre and closed before the Broadway Bound sequel debuted," Miller said. "It was a big disappointment for the cast and crew. We had rehearsed for two months."
Then in 2013, Miller starred as Ben in the La Mirada Theater production to an enthusiastic crowd.
Allan Miller was onstage again playing Ben in the 2014 Odyssey Theater production in Los Angeles. "It was a joy working with Jason Alexander," enthused Miller. "He is a terrific director."
Allan Miller and Jason Alexander
Getting into Acting
While driving a supply truck in Japan for the army, Miller read a notice in the Stars and Stripes newspaper - "Actors wanted in Tokyo." He won his audition and was released from service to go to Tokyo. The theater troop performed one straight play and one musical to entertain the troops.
Their production of Boy Meets Girl was very popular with the servicemen, as was Miller's original production - Heavenly Daze. It was about St. Peter at the pearly gates auditioning everyone to enter or be turned away from Heaven.
They performed and entertained hundreds of soldiers to uplift their spirits during the war.
When Miller picked up Jungle Rot on his feet while touring in Korea, he was medically discharged and came back home to Brooklyn.
Meeting a fellow army comrade on the subway, he followed the young man into New York to a Dramatic Workshop. He liked how the theater was a convivial place where people talked about their feelings. Almost all of the students were soldiers who had seen the atrocities of the war. The theater class was welcoming and a more cheerful environment. Miller thrived in class.
He started using his feelings up on the stage by studying with the immensely popular German American actress and acting teacher Uta Hagen. He also found a home at the legendary Actors Studio in New York. Lee Strasberg believed in Miller and took him under his wing. Strasberg would ask Miller, "What do you think?" Later Miller became a teacher and coach at The Actors Studio.
From there he became a professor at Yale and NYU. He later moved to Los Angeles and appeared in a multitude of television and motion pictures throughout his career.
Broadway Bound at The Odyssey Theatre
Tips To Staying Young
Allan Miller does not act like most men born in 1929. He is a very young, sharp and handsome 85 year old man. He appears to be more like someone in his 70s.
When I asked him his secret to his fountain of youth, he replied, "Good genes and being married to a wonderful woman 21 years younger."
"One attribute that I have is a real willingness to be foolish. My friends take themselves too seriously," said Miller. He also likes to wiggle. "Wiggling is important. Don't sit in a chair with your legs crossed like a serious person," Miller said. "Wiggle and let your energy flow."
Miller does have a reformer in his home and enjoys doing pilates and mat work. "I work out 30 to 40 minutes at least four to five times a week," Miller said. "I also don't eat a lot of salt or sugar."
He stays supple by moving his joints around and taking his wife on walks in the neighborhood.