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Tamara Wilcox-Smith Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Jan 1, 1940
  • Died: Jan 30, 1998

The contribution of Tamara Wilcox-Smith to the American entertainment industry came not from her scant film credits, but from her abilities as a teacher of improvisational theater and as a theater director. She has had considerable effect on the careers of a number of highly regarded actors like Griffin Dunne, Isaac Hayes, Kelly Preston and Jenna Elfman and comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Rita Rudner. She started out in the mid-'60s as a theatrical costume designer in San Francisco. While there she studied improvisation under Del Close and eventually joined his improv troupe, the Company. She also joined the Wing, an experimental theater group before she was discovered by Robert Altman and cast as a nurse in M*A*S*H (1970). She later moved to New York where she was a guest director at the Loft Theater. In the early '70s, Wilcox-Smith began teaching improv and launched her Interplay company. Still living in New York in 1984, she founded the National Improvisational Theatre. Her innovative teaching techniques have been integrated into the New York schools system and used for helping special education, handicapped and English-as-a-second-language students. She later taught workshops in Los Angeles. Back on the East Coast, Wilcox-Smith founded more programs, including the Professional Performing Arts School in New York, the O'Neill Theatre Festival and a few programs for Paul Newman's Connecticut-based Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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