In March 1968, future Oscar winner John Houseman visited the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
Mr. Houseman was here to audition actors for his new acting conservatory at Lincoln Center. Though media accounts did not identify it at the time, this became the new Drama Division of Julliard, which he led until 1976.
He had been aware of Dugald MacArthur’s acting program as part of the Arkansas Arts Center School of Art and Drama. When he learned that it would be closing in May 1968, Mr. Houseman decided to come to Little Rock to audition actors to be part of his initial 20 member class. Five actors from the Arkansas Arts Center were chosen to be part of that original class.
After sporadic acting appearances, he was cast in 1973’s The Paper Chase. It was for this performance, as a demanding contract law school professor, that Mr. Houseman won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The film was directed by University of Central Arkansas alum and Arkansas native, James Bridges. The two had known each other from Houseman’s UCLA theatre days. When several name actors declined the role, Mr. Houseman was approached and set up an audition.