Get To Know Wynn Handman, Subject Of New Netflix Documentary 'It Takes A Lunatic'

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Who Is Wynn Handman? New Details On Legendary Theater Coach Who's Subject Of A New Netflix Documentary

He has spent nearly 100 years finding and fostering new talents in both writing and acting. His students include a who's who of the Hollywood elite. And he's the subject of a new Netflix documentary called It Takes A Lunatic. Who is Wynn Handman?

As the co-founder of the American Place Theater, Wynn Handman helped foster the likes of Eric Bogosian, John Leguizamo, and Bill Irwin to superstardom. All these actors and performers got their start on the American Place Theater stage, and Handman recognized their talents early on in their careers. He is also a multiple award winner (Obie Awards, the Rosetta LeNoire Award from the Actor's Equity, and several other lifetime achievement awards), and — in what is perhaps his greatest achievement — is a husband and a father. 

Let's look at the storied life and times of Wynn Handman. 

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1. His daughters are in the theater industry, as well. 

According to The New York TimesWynn Handman was married to arts activist Barbara Handman, who organized the Save The Theaters event in the 1980s. They have two children, Laura and Liza, but unfortunately, Barbara died in 2013. Laura is married to a former White House Chief of Staff, and Liza is the founder of  Drury Design Dynamics, which is also in the events industry. 

2. Wynn Handman is considered a "feted Jewish producer."

According to The Times of Israel, Wynn Handman is considered a "feted Jewish producer," and one worthy of consideration in the annals of Jewish history. "The Jewish-American Handman was born in upper Manhattan back when there were still farms there — this film shows photographic proof! He went on to co-create the American Place Theater, as well as become a groundbreaking acting teacher," they said. 

3. Even though he's 97 years old, Wynn Handman is still teaching. 

According to the same article by The Times of Israel, even though Wynn Handman is nearly 100 years old, and the American Place Theater has closed after 40 successful seasons of performances, he's still teaching acting classes in Carnegie Hall. Go'head Wynn!

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4. He says he still teaches acting classes to help with the grief of losing his wife. 

In a different report for The New York Times, it was revealed that Wynn Handman continues to teach acting classes — even though he's a nonagenarian — because he's trying to get over the loss of his wife. He told the outlet that even talking about Barbara is difficult for him, because he "chokes up" at the mere mention of her name. 

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5. Several books have been written about Wynn Handman.

Prior to the release of this new documentary, there were several books written about Wynn Handman and his contributions to New York City theater. The most popular book was one called "Wynn Place Show," written by Jeremy Gerard, who also spoke highly of Barbara Handman as well.

6. It Takes A Lunatic is getting rave reviews. 

"We get a fascinating audio snippet of a Gere performance, part of a lengthy monologue from Killer’s Head, a narrative about a man in the electric chair written by Sam Shepard," reports Decider, who adds that the film about Wynn Handman will be a worthy watch for NY theater enthusiasts.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.