Lulu, Annie, and Frankie The Tooth
I was born in The Bronx, (I thought everyone was), and kidnapped by my parents when I was two years old and taken from New York to Miami, so I could perspire and have my hair curl up for my formative years.
I was extremely shy, no one would believe it now, but I was. I spent most of my childhood with horses. I taught horseback riding and worked hauling horses to competitions. I had a two-horse trailer and an old red and white convertible Ford, I named Betsy – I loved that car, wish I still had her. So I had horses, rode horses, and showed horses. I was the youngest rider to win the Florida championship from age 11 to 13 in the 5-Gaited Show Horse Division.
After that, I became the Florida State reserve champion in Western Pleasure. From about age eight to 17, horses were my life. Wow, was I ever fortunate!
- Ellen Gerstein and her 5 Gated Florida State Champion Lucky Co-ed (left) – Ellen Gerstein with Miss. Ebony Florida State reserve champion in Western Pleasure. (right)
From there I graduated and… HELLO NEW YORK!!!
I lived downtown in an apartment with about 2,000 roommates so we could afford the rent. I was a social worker for the NYC Department of Welfare. I had a huge caseload and made monthly visits to everyone (whether they wanted me to or not). I loved my job. After six years of working and a few years of therapy, (back in the day everyone was in therapy), I decided to go for it… Do what I really wanted to do, BE AN ACTRESS!!! As Dr. James Spingarn said, “You do not want to wake up and your 80 and you never did what you wanted to do in life, that would be bad.” Sooooo, I took myself to acting class with Lee Strasberg. I studied for five years in New York and LA, I loved it, (to put it mildly). Tremendous acting experiences, and life experiences. I am really lucky. I absolutely love studying my craft, I always want to be the best that I can be.
I also studied script analysis with Stella Adler, which was so very important. At that time you studied for at least a few years before you got pictures taken and searched for an agent and of course work.
At some point, I thought it would be fun to do stand-up comedy, and that is what I did. I had a lot of fun, and I met an unbelievable amount of people that needed a good laugh!
But acting was always my first love and thought I should continue with my energy down that path. Oh, and I might as well tell you that I was a runner for 16 years. I ran every day, sometimes twice a day. Running was such a help in many ways to me. I really got to be private with myself and figure out things and meditate and be positive. I was not social when I ran, it was all about running.
For some reason, I thought I could save money going to a therapist if I become one, and then I could just talk to myself, (creative thinking at its best!). So, I went to graduate school at Antioch University at night, so I could be free to do my acting during the day. I became a psychotherapist.
In 1989 my sister Joan Carol Gerstein passed away. I carry her in my heart always as I do my mother and father. I developed a yearly scholarship at my sister’s Alma Mater, Barry University, in the School of Social Work. She was also a Social Worker who worked with battered women.
I settled in Los Angeles quite a while ago and bought a little house. Two years ago I completely leveled my house and built a new one…still little, with charm and warmth, which I LOVE. I am very happy living there with my two girls, Annie, a rescued Australian Shepherd – Chocolate Lab, and Lulu, a Dashound who took an evil turn and mixed with Beagle. I love my girls, and I must say, that I have the most incredible friends a person could ever have.
I am so happy and so very lucky to do what I love because I believe success, is doing what you love
LIFE. IS. GOOD.
Ellen Gerstein in elementary school (left), Ellen Gerstein in Hollywood (center), Joan Gerstein Ellen’s sister (right).