Paul Muni (1895-1967)
was born in what is today Lviv, Ukraine. His birth name
Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund,
though he used the name Muni Weisenfreund while acting in the
While most of us know Muni as
a wonderful film actor -- from the major 19th century
French novelist and playwright
Émile Zola to a wrongly
accused escapee from a chain gang -- Muni first got his
start in the Yiddish theatre, where both his parents were
very young age his acting talent was recognized by Yiddish
great Maurice Schwartz who signed him to be part of his
acting troupe, the Yiddish Art Theatre.
Muni began to act on Broadway
in 1926, and in 1929 was signed by Fox to star in motion
pictures. His first film was called "The Valiant"; for his
work in this film he received an Oscar nomination.
However, he then decided to return to the Broadway, but
then once again returned to Hollywood in 1932 where he
would become a major motion picture star.