Tributes 
"Close-Ups"

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Eli Rill  
May 24, 1926 - November 7, 2014
Beloved Acting Teacher, Director, Father
The Actors Studio New York, The Actors Studio West LA
 
 
 Janine Manatis and her son Ethan Rill said goodbye to Ethan's father, beloved acting teacher of the Actors Studio NY and LA, Eli Rill, who pioneered the work along with his wife in Toronto. They celebrated his life at the Actors Studio LA this past December 2014. The following is the tribute given by his son, Ethan Rill.
 

Interview from Ethan Rill about father Eli Rill 

b. May 24th. 1926 in Brooklyn NY.
d. Nov.  7th.2014 in Los Angeles, CA.
 
The second  oldest of four children.
His parents came to America through Ellis Island in the early 1920's.
HS-Townsend Harris in NY High Academic high achieving schoolastic school in NY
Lee Strasberg (1901-1982) also was a Townsend Harris graduate, (class of 1918) my dad was class of 1942.
There's the link. A link before they knew there was a link.
 
Joined the Marine Corp 1943 at 17 he was under age 
Fudged his birth certificate. 
Trained  Marine Corp Paris Island, SC.
Then two yrs. overseas, Saipan and ultimately Nagasaki.
Had Tattooed on his Left forearm USMC 43-46
Very Proud of the Marine Corp Semper Fi.
Loved going to the VA 
He was fortunate very lucky. 
The VA served him very well
Always took care of him
Right down till the end. 
 
Decided somewhere he wanted to be an Actor.
Summer of 1949 met my mom with a touring company, the "Borscht Circuit".
And went to the Actors Studio.
Certainly was there at the time that the Studio was on the cutting edge of all of it.
With Elia Kazan, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, James Dean, Tenessee Williams,
All those people.
James Baldwin was a friend of my Dad's and Mum's too.
So at that time they were in Actors Studio they were in there 20's in the 1950's 
My dad started coming to Toronto before I was born in 1962.
I was born in Manhattan lived there 2-3 yrs then immigrated to Toronto.
Late 50's early 60's Nathan Cohen, (theatre critic) was part of the influence.
Don't know all the reasons he started coming to Toronto.
Could have been Nathan Cohen reaching out.
 
At the Actors Studio Eli becomes more of a teacher than an actor in this time frame.
He becomes at the right hand of Lee Strasberg so to speak.
Sort of his underling. 
Lee's daughter Susan was an actress and his wife Anna was also a teacher. 
When he got to LA he was teaching at the Actors Studio with Anna Strasberg.
Worked as Humphrey Bogart's acting coach on the set of THE HARDER THEY FALL 1955. It was Bogart's final film. My dad wrote, Bogie: The Final Chapter. it's an e-book on Kindle.
 
When he started coming to Toronto there was nothing here as far as Acting teachers are concerned.
He brought the Actor's Studio method  here.
Doug Mcgrath began studying in 1966 part of iconic ensemble cast of 1970 Going Down The Road
Paul Bradley, Jayne Eastwood, Cayle Chernin all in the movie studied with my Dad before being cast in Going Down The Road.
Cayle was my Dad's girlfriend at the time when my Mom and Dad split up.
There was that whole angle on it.
Don Shebib basically said to Eli.. I need some actors to do this, what do you think? 
My Dad went boom boom boom. There you go.
Or so legend has it.

Doug used the phrase and I think it's great,
"Eli started a fire here, he put a match to our creative embers"
He was here almost 15 yrs. from`1964 -1979.
Those were my growing up years.

First Acting studio was above Le Strip on Yonge St
I was 7 years old and walking up the back fire escape hearing
THE GIRLS ARE DANCING COME ON IN!
Catacombs above it. Shut the big doors 
Dark in the studio.
Folding chairs.
Could smoke then
The lights and the smoke
My Dad smoked a pipe then
Was a professor in the chair with a pipe
Very strong memories of that studio
Then the next studio was 18 Adelaide St W.
Right behind where the Hockey Hall of Fame is now.
Yes, very similar to the other place
Fire escape up to the top floor, it had a very New York feel to it.
 
He taught at OCA by the Art Gallery
He was a big mucky muck at OCA  Drama Dept.
Taught John Candy out of there.

Life long work 
Wrote a screenplay finally self published became a novel
PENNY FOR THE VIOLIN MAN
Available Online
Was working on that for a long time.

He was probably at the top of his game/career in Toronto.
He wrote and directed a few childrens plays that ran at the Colonade Theatre
and the Theatre in the Dell.
He was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Actors Award circa 1972, best supporting actor, for his performance in, "Slipstream".
Having the name Ethan Rill
Well,  when I met people in Toronto over the years, 
Rill by any chance are you related to Eli? 
Everyone always said 
" loved your Dad", he was great. He started the fire. He was the coolest guy, he took us here . He did this and that.
Always talked with genuine affection for the guy.

I just got a e-mail note from Art Hindle today with his condolences.
I bumped into him a few years back at the 40th anniversary DVD release of, Face Off.
In 1970  Art Hindle is studying with my DAD and  gets the role of Billy Duke in the movie Face Off
Story: Hockey player falls in love with a girl, she has drug issues, can he save the day.
Filmed in Toronto, all the hockey scenes at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Lots of Hockey in it.

Jim Mackenny was the stunt double for Art Hindle.
He was star with the Leafs.
They send JM to  Dad's class to get familiar
Takes classes with my Dad,
Gets the Acting bug.

Later became City TV sports announcer and personality.
Lived around the corner from Dad.
Starts giving ML tickets to my dad.
I'm going 2 -3 times a month in 1970-71 season.
So four years ago when I see Art Hindle and McKenny at the 40th year anniversary as well as other students of my Dads that were there that night
All asking about Dad with warmth and affection.

Happy Hooker Xavier Hollander  starts taking classes with my Dad
I was 12 or 13 years old
Because of her connections Dad and me at age 12 and the Happy Hooker went to Frank Sinatra at Maple Leaf Gardens. The looks we were getting.

Also had classes at the Jewish Y, (YMHA) at Bloor and Spadina in the mid 1970's, Mum substituted for him a bunch times.
 
Lou Gossett JR. had a nice quote about my Mom & Dad at the Actors Studio in his book, An Actor and a Gentleman, "I also studied with Janine Manatis, a great actress and an equally wonderful teacher, who was married to the director Eli Rill. 
This married couple taught in tandem, with one spouses class on Tuesday and the other's on Thursday.
 
Late 1970's moved to LA with his third with Claire Goren and had a daughter, my sister Elissa in 1981. 
 
Wanted a challenge and went to LA
Taught at the Actors Studio-West in LA for 3 years. 
Then had his own studio on Sunset Blvd across from the Hollywood Athletic Club.
East of La Brea.

Because of my Dad and Mother I went to so many films, plays, shows and got a great education. My Parents were perfect parents for me. I couldn't have had a more right Dad for me.
 
I would visit my dad in LA in the late 70's and 80's regularly.
I moved there myself in 1985 and spent the next 25yrs. there.
He was a Father and a Grandfather.
 
There was drama and life in my Dad's classes
If he knew we were are all getting together to celebrate him he would be so proud and happy.
"Have fun",  was always said by my Dad .
Have Fun.

 
 
 
 
 
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 JAMES BALDWIN
American Author, Activist

1961. James Baldwin wrote:  "Bobby Kennedy recently made me the  soul-stirring promise that one day - thirty years, if I'm lucky - I can be President too........What really exercises my mind is not this hypothetical day on which some other Negro will become the "first" Negro President. What I am really curious about is just what kind of country he'll be President of."
 

                  In film a "reveal" is a moment of truth, where the purpose and meaning of the story, its characters, actions, events, all come together to illuminate our experience. When expressed with insight and originality, it produces a shift in consciousness. "Revelation" is the result.

   And so it is that certain people are "reveals" in our travels here. Those without whom we'd never know that potential, which is the fundamental difference between who we are and who we only might have been.

   One such in my life was the great essayist, novelist, prophet-activist, James Baldwin.

   Our relationship* began when he came to the Actors' Studio at the invitation of Gadge Kazan to have a go at playwriting.

I was an actress, director, writer there. He put writer out front when he became my mentor, saying, "You're a writer, baby. Write." (He followed it up with action I'll elaborate on later. ) However, what he also did for me as an actress was adapt his controversial, ground-breaking novel, "Giovanni's Room" a portion of which was presented at the Studio. This historical event is something never before written about. It's taken a long time, but I finally realize it needs to be done, and I am obviously the one to do it.

     And there's more. Much more. Just when you thought you'd read everything about Jimmy Baldwin.

*Just to be clear: our relationship was not personal in the romantic sense. Jimmy's "preference" was for men. So is mine!
 

 

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BERYL FOX
THE NFB & THE ENSEMBLE WORKSHOP
Documentary Filmmaker, Producer

 

 A Triad of Ground Breaking and History Making development of the film industry in Canada

 

"THE ENSEMBLE WORKSHOP", conceived and directed by Janine Manatis, was created under the auspices of award winning documentary filmmaker, Beryl Fox and the National Film Board of Canada.   The complete story coming soon... However,

      One result: a feature film, "I,MAUREEN", introducing Michael Ironside ("Total Recall").

      Screenplay & Director: Janine Manatis

      FIRST film in the Toronto Film Festival directed by a woman. 3 Award nominations.

 

      To all the actors, directors, writers, producers who made it the unique, inspiring, ground-breaking, career-making opportunity dedicated to a way of creating world-class, authentic ensemble performance.

 

 

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ELWY YOST
TV Host, "Saturday Night at the Movies", TVO

 

Elwy Yost made an indelible mark on Canadian movie-goers with his TVO presentations," SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES ". They entertained, educated and enlarged the experiences of savvy film-lovers and novices alike. And he managed to do all that without pontificating or ever making himself more important than the subject. He was the quintessential "everyman". He loved movies. He loved sharing them with everyone. He was generous and authentic. He truly wanted us to embrace the ritual of going to the movies on Saturady night with him.

 

I had the privilege and the great pleasure of co-hosting many of these evenings plus he invited me to host on my own(a first)a four part series, "THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN THE CINEMA" with live guests of outstanding women in the industry.(Reminds me now of what I see on "The View". Except we had call-in viewers. This was before Twitter, remember!) Those were memorable evenings at the movies.

 

Bless and thank you, Elwy. Your gift lives on.

 

Janine Manatis

 

_____________

 

FULL STORIES TO COME
 
 
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NATHAN COHEN
National Critic & Journalist , Toronto Star
 
 
STELLA HOLT & FRANCES DRUCKER , GREENWHICH MEWS THEATRE NY
Creators/Producers of FIRST Inter-Racial Theater
 
 
 
 
JEAN TOWNSEND & SAUL FIELD
Innovative Canadian Print Artists
 
 
 

MARJORIE KARMEL & ALEX KARMEL

Marjorie: Author, "Thank you, Dr. Lamaze", brought Lamaze method of natural childbirth to U.S.

  Alex: Author novel, "Mary Ann", adapted into one of first independent films "Something Wild"

 

MORE TO COME

  

 

During the making of a film in 1920 with the great director D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish remembers floating down a river on an ice floe in the middle of winter: 
"Mister Griffith kept shouting at me, 'Look at the camera! Look at the camera!' But I couldn't, I had icicles on my eyelids."
        Lillian Gish, Actress