Here are are two excerpts from Celia's
autobiography regarding Paul Muni, with whom she starred in
the aforementioned English-language play, and regarding
rehearsals for the play itself, which ran on Broadway from
September 5 to December 14, 1946:
"Right now, speaking of Muni
Weisenfreund (Paul Muni), I get to thinking that in my
career I've never had the opportunity to play with this
brilliant actor during my career on the Yiddish stage. Even
though we played many seasons at Schwartz's [Yiddish Art
Theatre], fate so decreed that Schwartz was not more of less
hostile with me during those seasons when Muni was with
Schwartz's theatre; and contrariwise, it was not until
twenty-seven years later, during the period I am describing
here, that I had the pleasure to play with him, the then
already famous Paul Muni. But it was not in Yiddish; it was
in the famous Ben Hecht spectacle, 'A Flag is Born,' on
right: Celia Adler as Zelda, 1946, "A
Flag is Born."
"So I feel
flattered to this day that, when they placed before Paul
Muni a list of almost twenty recognized actresses, among
whom were the very greatest American actresses, famous
figures from Broadway and Hollywood, Muni said very
cold-heartedly, looking over the list: 'There's missing
here just the name of the actress who is as if born for
the roleóget me Celia Adler."
Here are some photographs from "The
Flag is Born," courtesy of the Museum of the City of New
York. Celia played the role of Zelda. Even though Paul Muni
was the original Tevye in this play, you will see below that
both Jacob Ben-Ami and Luther Adler were replacements for
the role of Tevye.
Above: Jacob Ben Ami and Celia Adler.
Above: Celia Adler and Luther Adler.
Below: Sidney Lumet and Celia Adler.
Below: Celia Adler.
More about the play from Celia's
couldn't remain still for a moment during the few
minutes I was reading. One could definitely see in his
looking at Muni that he agreed with his choice.
began under the direction of my brother Luther. The
production was planned to run only four weeks. But
evidently fate decreed that the last lap of my career of
many years' standing should remain one of my most
shining chapters. The success of the production spread
out over much longer than the four weeks that Paul Muni
had time to give it. Then my brother Luther took over
Muni's role. His and Marlon Brando's time was also
limited, and Jacob Ben Ami and Sidney Lumet took over
their roles. We played it for almost thirty weeks here
in New York and on, a tour over the great Jewish centers
across the country. I had an endless amount of acting
joy and songs of praise from the most important
theatre critics in America. I'm not going to cite what
was written about me. I can only tell you that I
surfeited myself with compliments up to my head and
over. To receive so much recognition in the English
press in New York by playing opposite Paul Muni,
Broadway's most beloved figure, was extremely gratifying
I must cite
here a few phrases from a little note Ben Hecht sent
over to me during those performances:
"Purely as a
token of my great gratitude to you for your wonderful
creation, I give you the right to use anything you like
from among my writings. I shall consider it a privilege
if you should find expression for your talents in my
creations. Ben Hecht."