James Tripp

Head of Acting Emeritus (in memoriam)

James Tripp

April 12, 1938 – October 27, 2021

James Tripp, actor and teacher, shuffled off this mortal coil on October 27, in New York City. Son of the late Ruth (Dickinson)Tripp and Arley Tripp, he was born on April 12th, 1938 in Centralia, Illinois, and was forever grateful that his parents relocated to South San Francisco, California after the War. He leaves behind a beloved sister, Jenny Tripp, a niece, Cordelia Baker, a nephew, Peter Garibaldi, and a host of devoted friends and beloved colleagues. The great love of his life, Peter Coffield, predeceased him. 

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he went straight from school to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and worked continually in classical repertory as a young man. His acting career included leading roles in Shakespearian and classical plays for the New York Shakespeare Festival, the San Diego National Shakespeare Festival, the Great Lakes Theater Festival, and over 20 productions at Princeton University’s McCarter Theatre. On Broadway, he was featured in Hamlet, The Cocktail Party, and Cock-A-Doodle Dandy. His television credits include PBS’s The Adam Chronicles and the hit series Spin City. In 1994, Mr. Tripp received a National Endowment for the Arts Special Project Theatre Grant with Joan Evans. He taught at the New Orleans Center for Cultural Affairs (NOCCA). His numerous directing accolades included, You Can’t Take It With You and Relatively Speaking (San Diego’s Old Globe); As You Like It (Camden Shakespeare); and The Misanthrope, Cloud 9, and The Cripple of Inishmaan (NOLA Project New Orleans Theatre). He worked with artists such as Jean Renoir, Arvin Brown, John Houseman, and Ellis Raab. He loved every minute of it.

But his happiest years were those he spent as a teacher and mentor to young actors, truly an epic second act to a life in the theatre. Mr. Tripp served as the Head of Acting and Master Teacher at the Stella Adler Studio and taught at other prestigious institutions around the world, including the Universidade Moderna in Libson, Portugal, and the Stage School in Hamburg, Germany. He is fondly remembered by the many hundreds of students with whom he worked for his biting wit, his unerring eye for artificiality, and his straightforward criticisms and directions. His aim was to make them better artists, and he did. There was often laughter and occasionally tears in his classes, but if you survived, you came out a more honest and skilled actor, with a deeper appreciation for the great literature of the theater. He did not suffer fools gladly, or in fact at all. 

His chief hobby was the opera, and his knowledge of it was encyclopedic. This obsession took hold of him at the age of 6, when his parents took him to his first performance at the San Francisco Opera, and never let go. As a teenager he subjected his suffering family to the Saturday afternoon Texaco broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, played at deafening volume on the living room hi fi, as he occupied the sofa with a score spread across his knees. God help you if you interrupted this weekly worship. He collected Staffordshire figures, Victorian china, books, hats, memorabilia of the British Royal Family, fine art, and walking sticks, amassing far too much of all of these. He loved good food (and junk food), great music, and his work. 

He was a loving son whose every visit home was heralded like the passing of Haley’s Comet by his adoring family; an affectionate and generous uncle and mentor to his nephew and niece; a guide to all good things as a brother to his sister Jenny, and an inexhaustibly loyal and forgiving friend. Nobody who knew him will forget him, and those who loved him will always miss him. 

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in his name to The Stella Adler Conservatory, which has created a James Tripp Scholarship Fund. You may donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/jimmy-tripp-scholarship-fund, knowing that Jimmy would have appreciated it very much.

Posted in