Stella Adler was born in New York on 10th February, 1901. She joined the Group Theatre was formed in New York by Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg in 1931. Others involved in the group included Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Franchot Tone, John Randolph, Joseph Bromberg, Clifford Odets and Lee J. Cobb. Members of the group tended to hold left-wing political views and wanted to produce plays that dealt with important social issues.
While working with the group Lee Strasberg developed what became known as the Method. Based on the ideas of the Russian director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, it was a system of training and rehearsal for actors which bases a performance upon inner emotional experience, discovered largely through the medium of improvisation. Adler was influenced by Strasberg's approach to acting and this can be seen in her performances in the films, Love on Toast (1938), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) and My Girl Tisa (1948).
After the Second World War, most of the members of the group were investigated by House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Some like Elia Kazan, Clifford Odets and Lee J. Cobb testified and named other members of left-wing groups in the 1930s. Those that refused to do this such as Stella Adler, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, John Randolph, and Joseph Bromberg were blacklisted.
Unable to find work in the cinema and on television, Adler became primarily a teacher of other actors. Whereas Lee Strasberg placed an emphasis on self, Adler urged students to transcend their own experiences and by investigating the play's circumstances rather than their own. Her students included Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty and Harvey Keitel.