August 14, 1929 - August 20, 2015
The San Francisco and greater theater community mourns the loss of Frank Ottiwell, actor, teacher and a member of the core group that brought the American Conservatory Theater and the Alexander Technique to San Francisco in 1967. He died last week at the age of 86.
Born Francis Garbutt Ottiwell in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to parents Francis and Harriett, both born in South Shields, England, Frank had two older sisters, Cecelia and Rita.
Frank developed a love for the theater at an early age as his grandfather, George Ottiwell was a musician in the theatre and his father also had theatrical experience. After attending public school and Sir George Williams College, in the late-40's he trained in acting at the Canadian Art Theatre School, followed by studies at the Vera Soloviova Acting School in New York and voice studies in London, where he got his first real exposure to the Alexander Technique. Living in New York in the 50's and 60's, he continued his studies in the Alexander Technique and began teaching this mindful method to actors, musicians, dancers, athletes, public speakers, etc. in 1959 while still pursuing his own career in acting.
Happily employed at the British Information Services in New York, in 1967 a new opportunity arose that changed Frank's life. During the "Summer of Love" the two-year-old American Conservatory Theater toured west and played 4 weeks of summer theater at Stanford. The group loved it so much, they made San Francisco their permanent home that year.
Frank played "The Ghost of Christmas Past" for 20 years in the original production of "The Christmas Carol" and had parts in several other A.C.T. productions such as "Dinner at Eight" and "Uncle Vanya". Though he played smaller roles, Frank was always a scene stealer. He was a great explorer in those earlier days of acting.
But his greatest love was found in teaching the Alexander Technique. At A.C.T. thousands of acting students took his courses as part of their curriculum. In addition, Frank owned and operated an accredited school, The Alexander Institute of San Francisco where hundreds of new A.T. teachers were produced.
Frank is survived by niece Vicky, nephews Peter, Fred, Grant and Ken, all in Canada, and husband Kurt. Frank's local family of friends are invited to join him and their dog Dede in a casual gathering at Frank's home in San Francisco on Tuesday, September 1st at 2:00 PM, with an open house until about 8:00. A Celebration of Frank's Life & Legacy is still to be announced, but it will very likely be held this fall at the American Conservatory Theater.