Gifted Teacher of Actors, Directors Receives Many Gifts in Return

By the time she was 30, Nina Foch was a hot commodity thanks to her performances in such films as “My Name Is Julia Ross,” “Scaramouche,” the Academy Award-winning “An American in Paris” and “Executive Suite,” for which she received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination.

“But I knew I was going to get cold someday. I had a limited kind of career by my look--my genes. So I wanted to direct.”

In the 1950s, women directors were few and far between. “They said no crew would listen to a woman, which was nonsense,” Foch says. “So I worked with George Stevens as his assistant on ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and then I realized that I was never going to do this (direct). Slowly but surely, I started teaching acting and directing.”

Currently, Foch operates the Nina Foch Studio, is adjunct professor at the Cinema-Television School of USC and consults feature film directors on their latest projects.


And she does manage to find time to squeeze in an acting assignment. Her latest is in this Sunday’s NBC movie, “In the Arms of a Killer,” which stars Jaclyn Smith and John Spencer.

Foch has a cameo in the thriller as Mrs. Venible, a matriarch of a family who endures public humiliation. “The fact is I did it because I am terribly fond of Jaclyn Smith. We are friends and have always wanted to work together. This time we did it.”

Later this year, Foch also will be seen on the big screen in Cameron Crowe’s “Singles” and “Change of Heart” with Christopher Reeve. With such women directors as Penny Marshall, Barbra Streisand and Lili Fini Zanuck now achieving success, people still ask Foch why she doesn’t direct a movie.

“Well, I am having all the fun,” she replies. “I have this multitude of children who are standing up and getting Oscars. My house is filled with flowers and gifts from grateful people. I love them and they love me. I have one son, but I really don’t. I have hundreds of children.”