A few hours ago Sybil Schacht, Sam Schacht’s wife, called to tell me that Sam died this morning.
Sam taught at Adler for fifteen years. He came to us from the New School where he ran the MFA program associated with the Actors Studio. Sam was an interesting presence at Adler because his formative training was done at the Actors Studio under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg with whom he worked for many years. As a Method actor/teacher, Sam had admiration for Stella’s text-based approach. It was fun to argue with him and watch him argue with himself. He both enriched and provoked our students in important ways. He provided the kind of creative tension, the kind of antagonistic cooperation, strong arts organizations need to thrive.
Sam was a wonderful teacher as well as a gifted actor with serious professional credits. He was also a good friend. When Sybil called me I thought to myself, “this is awful. I’m going to call my mother to tell her.” Took me a moment to remember we lost my mother in 2019. I have a memory of sitting on my mother’s patio in Bridgehampton back in the late aughts with Sam, Lois Smith, my mother, sister and various others. It was a warm, green and golden summer afternoon. Sam amused us by referring to himself as a poor man’s David Margulies. My mother loved Sam. They were of the same New York theater world, knew many of the same people and loved to laugh together.
Ever-evolving Sam went back to school and became a psychoanalyst. Sam had clients and was able to apply his energies to helping people. He went to the same school as my cousin Josie Oppenheim and so my connections to Sam grew.
Jimmy loved Sam. They were both strong, no-nonsense professionals. They were smart, candid, hopelessly courageous, never cowering, never sentimental. They were craftsmen and they were artists. They contained visions of greatness and commanded respect, admiration and guts. They cut paths up the mountain over very rugged terrain. Let’s follow…