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Improvising Out LoudImprovising Out Loud

My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act

Jeff Corey and Emily Corey

Narrated by Tom Zainea

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Kentucky

Jeff Corey (1914–2002) made a name for himself in the 1940s as a character actor in films like Superman and the Mole Men (1951), Joan of Arc (1948), and The Killers (1946). Everything changed in 1951, when he was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Corey refused to name names and was promptly blacklisted, which forced him to walk away from a vibrant livelihood as an actor and embark on a career as one of the industry’s most revered acting instructors.

In Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act, Corey recounts his extraordinary story. Among the actors who would soon fill his classes were James Dean, Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Rob Reiner, Jack Nicholson, and Leonard Nimoy. In 1962, when the blacklist ended, Corey was one of the industry’s first trailblazers to seamlessly reboot his acting career and secure roles in some of the classic films of the era, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), True Grit (1969), and Little Big Man (1970), in which he starred as the infamous Wild Bill Hickok.

Throughout his life, Corey sought to capture the human heart: in conflict, in terror, in love, and in all of its small triumphs. His memoir, which he wrote with his daughter Emily Corey, provides a unique and personal perspective on the man whose teaching inspired some of Hollywood’s biggest names to star in the roles that made them famous.

Jeff Corey (1914–2002) was an American stage and screen actor and director who became a well-respected acting teacher after being blacklisted in the 1950s.

Emily Corey is an award-winning writer and editor for the web, multimedia, advertising, books, and the theater. She has received the Gold and Silver CLIO Awards, the Belding Award, the Benny Award, and the London International Advertising Award.


Improvising Out Loud is a personal history of a vital art from the 1930s to 2000. It describes cogently and with flair the role of acting, the complex practices on stage and screen, and what it takes to be an actor.”

—Mollie Gregory, author of Women Who Run the Show and Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story

Improvising Out Loud is a classic, epic book and having known most of the people Jeff Corey is writing about, made reading it a particular delight. Jeff’s appreciation for theater and acting is amazing and it is a gift that he decided to share his insights with us all. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Hollywood, the theater, acting, or life itself.”

—Robert Morse

“Corey's story is captivating as well as relevant.”

Deeply Shallow

“It’s an absorbing chronicle of a noted actor, Blacklist survivor, and acting teacher for an impressive array of up-and-coming stars. This is about the life and career of a fine actor and renowned teacher – a life of positivity, creativity, and integrity. ”

YES! Weekly

“Film buffs know Jeff Corey as a solid and prolific character actor; Hollywood veterans remember him as an inspiring acting teacher whose students ranged from ordinary people to such future stars as Jack Nicholson. This book brings both halves of the late Corey’s life together, including his experiences with the Federal Theater in the 1930s and his subsequent blacklisting in the 1950s.”

—Leonard Maltin, New and Notable Film Books

“Jeff Corey—actor, teacher, patriot! Would that my generation had such an inspiring and honest advocate. ”

—Martin Sheen

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks