Mike Nichols (left) and
Tony Kushner

Whoopi Goldberg

Ellen Adler and Warren Beatty

Jessica Lange, Mike Medavoy
and Mikhail Baryshnikov

Passing The Torch
From Brando to Beatty

Story by Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by Barry Gordin

ENIUS was honored and a great legend was remembered at the 3rd Annual Stella by Starlight gala benefiting the world famous Stella Adler Studio of Acting. It was an extraordinary triumvirate of American talent celebrated that evening and also marked the passing of the torch from Marlon Brando, the late honorary chairman of the fabled studio, to fellow Studio alumni, Warren Beatty and the continuation of the Adler family and Group Theatre legacy.

Stella's daughter Ellen Adler and Studio president and artistic director Tom Oppenheim spoke affectionately but powerfully about the influence the Adler family and the Group Theater had on the arts, past and present.

Mike Nichols presented Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner with the Jacob Adler Award for courageous contribution to Jewish and American culture.

The legendary Arthur Miller was given the Group Theater Award for prolific achievement in theater, television and film and commitment to social justice. Unable to attend due to illness, Miller was represented by his daughter, director/writer Rebecca Miller Day Lewis.

Marlon Brando, surely one of Stella's most gifted pupils, was posthumously honored with the award named for his late teacher and mentor Stella Adler. Warren Beatty, who has succeeded Brando as honorary chairman of The Studio, accepted the award on his behalf and immediately presented it to Marlon's son, Miko Brando.

Co-chairmen Mike Medavoy and Roy Scheider pulled out all the stops to make this a memorable and historic event. Event planners extraordinaire, Lorelei Enterprises (Lorraine Totaro, Eleanor Meglio and Scott Perrin) kept the evening running as smoothly as a well-oiled clock.

Karen Brando, Lauren Bacall and
Miko Brando

Highlights of the evening included Whoopi Goldberg's delightful, almost star struck reminiscences of her first encounters with Brando; a sizzling musical tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb, directed by Gordon Hunt and Scheider with show stopping performances by Melissa Errico, Brent Barrett and Marin Mazzie; a hilarious comedy sketch by recent Studio grads Casey Wilson and June Raphael; and a video tribute focusing on a very young Brando at the outset of his career.

On hand to applaud the honorees and celebrate the Adler family legacy were Lauren Bacall, Betty Comden, Bud Schulberg, Joe and Elisa Stein, Tony Danza, Ron Howard and daughter Bryce Dallas Howard (an alumna of The Studio), Elizabeth Ashley, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jessica Lange, Lois Smith, Ron Burrus, Bebe Beuell, Gail Furman, Donna & Dick Soloway, Mary Rodgers and Henry Guettel, Barbara Hearst, Annette Insdorf, Deborah Kampmeier, Howard Kanowitz, Pamela Newman, Rita Fredricks Salzman, Rick McKay, Jamie DeRoy, Lisa Vioni and Ivan Wilzig.

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