▶ History of the Academy

Grace Kelly
A History Worth Talking About

The Academy has been the first - and foremost - American conservatory completely dedicated to the training of professional actors.

Founded in 1884, the Academy celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2009. From its inception, it has attracted talented and committed students from around the world to its acting school in New York, and, since 1974, to its acting school in Los Angeles. Throughout its history, Academy faculty and administrators have been among the most progressive theatrical theorists and visionaries of their day, and today are actively influencing the field of actor training and theatre practice.

The Academy alumni list is an impressive one, with prominent names from all aspects of the entertainment industry, past and present. As a group, The Academy alumni hold a total of more than 103 Oscar®, 266 Emmy®, and 90 Tony® nominations plus 5 Kennedy Center Honorees. The numbers grow every year.

In honor of our 125th Anniversary, on November 30, 2009, the Academy's incredibly rich and fascinating history was a featured article in Backstage, The Academy: 125 Years and Counting. As the oldest sustained acting school in the English-speaking world, The Academy set the standards for conservatory training throughout the world. In 1896, founder and former Harvard University professor Franklin Haven Sargent stated, "I take pride in the fact that nearly every one of the many schools established in the main cities throughout the country is under the direction of either a graduate or a former teacher." One of its first graduates, Charles Jehlinger, succeeded Sargent following his death in 1923, a position he continued in until his death in 1952.

During the 20th Century The Academy became widely known as the "Cradle to the Stars" because of its glittering array of alumni such as Spencer Tracy, Edward G. Robinson, Rosalind Russell, Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Jason Robards, Robert Redford, Danny Devito, John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Anne Bancroft, Cleavon Little and Grace Kelly shown above. This legacy continues into the 21st Century with The Academy alumni such as Christine Ebersole, Paul Rudd, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Haysbert and countless others. Our training program is unique because it is based upon this storied heritage, advanced methods of instruction, an exemplary faculty and a leadership committed to the same standards of excellence that have made the Academy foremost in its field.

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