Vivian Firko Schwalb -AKA- Vivian Nathan
Time of Service:
Sunday, April 12, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
Place of Service:
Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76 Street, New York, NY 10023
Nathan, Vivian- gifted actor, mentor and teacher, died in her sleep Friday night, April 3, 2015 at The Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She was 98 years old and an original member of The Actors Studio, founded in 1947 by Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Robert Lewis and Cheryl Crawford among others. Vivian made her Broadway debut after winning the John Golden Auditions and appeared in such Broadway productions as “Sundown Beach”, directed by Elia Kazan, as well as the first plays by Tennessee Williams, including “The Rose Tattoo” with Maureen Stapleton and “Camino Real” with Eli Wallach, David J. Stewart and Joseph Anthony. For her portrayal of the Charwoman in “Anastasia” directed by Alan Schneider, she won the 1955 Clarence Derwent award. In “The Investigation” by Peter Weiss, a docudrama about Auschwitz, her performance was so riveting audiences believed she had been a holocaust survivor. Her last Broadway performance was in “Golda” with Anne Bancroft directed by Arthur Penn. In addition to her Broadway work that spanned from 1948 to 1977 she participated, at the Actors Studio and theaters across the country, in numerous productions by Ibsen, Chekhov and O’Neill whose plays she profoundly loved. Her 19 film appearances include “Teacher’s Pet” with Clark Gable, “The Young Savages” with Burt Lancaster, and “The Outsider” with Tony Curtis. In “Klute” with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, she played Jane's psychiatrist, infusing those scenes with a powerful emotional reality. She featured in over 50 television productions. Her favorite experiences were doing live television in “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One”. She appeared regularly in “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” from 1958 through 1961 and worked in television until 1989. Until 1999, Vivian served on the Board of Directors for The Actors Studio with Ellen Burstyn, Estelle Parsons, Paul Newman, Lee Grant and Al Pacino. As a session moderator and teacher, Vivian’s acute understanding and passion of the actor’s craft brought an internal clarity to all those who worked with her. She was held in high regard by her peers. The actress, Kim Stanley, never prepared a part without working with her friend and mentor, Vivian Nathan. Born Vivian Firko in 1916 in New York City, Vivian was the daughter of Hipolit and Anna Firko. Her husband of over 50 years, Nathan Schwalb, died in 2000. She is survived by her three nieces, Diane Everline, Vivian Mullett and Elizabeth Lebens, as well as her god-daughter Elissa Myers and Ms. Myers’ children, Nina and Sasha Friedman, as well as her oldest friend, Nohmie Myers. She will be greatly missed. She was greatly loved. The memorial service will be at “The Riverside,” 76 St. at Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY on Sunday April 13 at 5:00 PM.