Celia Adler was
born in New York City, the daughter of the great
Yiddish actor Jacob P. Adler and the beloved Yiddish
actress Dina Shtettin. Celia was a wonderfully talented
actress. She was so very much admired by
her colleagues and by her adoring audiences throughout
her long career on the Yiddish and English stages.
The Museum was privileged to get to know Celia's only
child (with Yiddish actor Lazar Freed), Dr. Selwyn
Freed who, along with his wife and two daughters, was instrumental in making this multimedia
exhibition about his mother's life possible.
We, who are lovers
of the Yiddish theatre, are so fortunate that Celia
chose to write her autobiography, which first appeared
in the Yiddish language in hardcover form in 1959. Her
story, which was published in two volumes, was never published in English,
in any form, until now. It is chock full of interesting
stories and anecdotes about Celia's professional and
personal life, stories about many of the famous and
not-so-famous actors and actresses who have graced the
boards of the Yiddish stage over the past many decades.
A fascinating read! Many of us know that the majority of
life accounts of our Yiddish actors et al were
originally published in Yiddish--many in
Yiddish-language newspapers--and were never translated
into English, so here is a rare opportunity to go back
in time and see what it was like in the early twentieth
century to be involved in Yiddish theatre.
In this online
exhibition you will also find
twenty-five excerpts (presented here in video form) of a 1974
interview conducted by the American Jewish Committee of
Celia Adler. Many of what Celia has to say within these
excerpts can also be
found in her written autobiography, but there is nothing
like hearing the timbre and expression in her voice, as she tells of her life experiences.
It is real treat.
In 1975 Celia gave
a talk in New York City to a group of senior citizens.
Although the talk was not professionally recorded - and
hence the quality of the recording is not ideal - listening to what she has to say about the
history of the Yiddish theatre will no doubt be
worthwhile to the "museum visitor."
We are fortunate
that Dr. Freed and his family recorded Celia during a
Passover Seder conducted in the 1970s, as she recited a
well-known poem by writer Mani Leib, "The Stranger,"
which has to do with Eliyahu HaNavi, whose name often
arises as we talk about this important Jewish holiday.
According to ancient tradition, Eliyahu HaNavi makes a
secret appearance at every Pesach Seder.
Within this online
exhibition, you will also have
the opportunity to hear Dr. Freed talk about the great
Yiddish actor, Ludwig Satz and his family and his
interactions with them, both as a young man and as an
adult. For those of you who are unaware of this fact, Ludwig Satz was
You will be
able to see photographs of, and read about, the life and
times of Celia's first husband, Yiddish actor Lazar
Freed, a very fine Yiddish actor in his own right. Just follow the links below,
either by left-clicking on the individual photograph or
the caption beneath it.
Also included within this
exhibition is a partial listing of Celia's career on the
Yiddish stage, a near fifteen-minute video clip from a
1961 episode of the television program, "Naked City," and
lastly photographs and words about Celia's most famous
appearance on the English stage, in Ben Hecht's "A Flag
is Born" in 1946.
You can comment on this online
exhibition by visiting the
Museum of the Yiddish Theatre Facebook page.
To view a particular aspect of the
exhibition shown below, simply click on any of the
thumbnail photographs or captions.