Improvising Out Loud:
My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act
by Jeff Corey with Emily Corey
Foreword by Leonard Nimoy
Afterword by Janet Neipris
The craggy nose, the disheveled eyebrows, and keen ability to make a role sing with authenticity defined actor Jeff Corey’s larger-than-life presence in film, television, and on stage. Known in Hollywood as an actor’s actor, Corey appeared in principal roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Little Big Man and the original True Grit. He played King Lear, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and Polonius, and whether he was Plasus in Star Trek’s “The Cloud Minders,” Hoban in Cincinnati Kid, Doc in Home of the Brave, Caspay in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, or Byron Lomax in the famed Outer Limits O.B.I.T. episode, Corey embraced the humanity, artistry, and intensity of every role.
Yet, in spite of his enormous talent, Corey was not always allowed to act.
In 1951, in the midst of a vibrant film career, Corey was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He refused to name names and was instantly blacklisted. Unemployed and with a family to feed, he turned to teaching the craft he was no longer allowed to perform himself.
As skilled as Corey was in front of the camera, his talents as an acting teacher were unequalled. Word got around and suddenly Jeff Corey was the person to study with in Hollywood. The list of his students is a who’s who of the Hollywood elite including, James Dean, Jack Nicholson, Leonard Nimoy, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, Anthony Perkins, Rob Reiner, Steven Spielberg, Richard Chamberlain, Cher, Carol Burnett and hundreds more who made their way to Corey’s acting classes to learn, as Jack Nicholson put it, “how to look at life as an artist.”
Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act is Corey’s personal memoir about art, life, and acting. Written with his daughter Emily Corey, Improvising Out Loud gives you a front row seat at Corey’s acting classes, his personal history of theater in New York and film in Hollywood, as well as an intimate look at how a remarkable man turned adversity into grace under fire and artistic integrity into magic.
Former student and screenwriter, Robert Towne, (Chinatown, Mission Impossible, Days of Thunder, Mad Men) said of Corey’s work as a teacher:
“Jeff’s students through the years have given countless performances that I doubt would have had the depth, the acuity, or the joy – or would have been given at all – if Jeff had not been forced to give up acting and teach. The so-called ‘Golden Age’ of film in the 1970s might have been very different had Jeff not been unlucky enough to be kept from acting and we had not been lucky enough to have had him for our teacher.”
Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act will be available May 2017 from the University Press of Kentucky.