Alice Spivak, Actress and Longtime Acting Teacher, Dies at 85

Alice Spivak
Everett Collection

Alice Spivak with Rizzo in 'The Muppets Take Manhattan'

She worked with directors including Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen and Nicole Holofcener during her long career.

Alice Spivak, a veteran acting teacher and dialogue coach who appeared in such films as The Muppets Take Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Please Give and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, died Nov. 9, her family announced. She was 85.

Spivak taught at Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen's HB Studio for 15 years and in 2012 launched the New York-based OnTheRoad Repertory Company, for whom she served as artistic director and performed.

"While she loved film and tolerated television, and contributed so much to each, the theater was always her greatest passion," the OnTheRoad company said in a statement.

A teacher for more than 60 years, the Brooklyn-born Spivak co-authored the 2007 book How to Rehearse When There Is No Rehearsal: Acting & the Media.

She made her onscreen debut in Lilith (1964), starring Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg, and went on to work in many other notable films, including Times Square (1980), Garbo Talks (1984), Another Woman (1988), How to Be Louise (1990), Privilege (1990), Electric Moon (1992) and If Lucy Fell (1996).

On television, Spivak recurred as a bailiff in 100 Centre Street, the 2001-02 A&E series that was executive produced by Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Garbo Talks director Sidney Lumet, and appeared on Sex and the City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Americans and The Good Cop. She continued to audition and perform until this spring, her family noted.

Spivak also served as a creative consultant/dialogue coach on movies including Buck and the Preacher (1972) and The Fan (1981).

Survivors include her sons, Michael and William.