Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Ben Basenko


Born on 20 December 1910 in Lokshivke, Kiev Gubernia, Ukraine, to parents descended from R' Liberl of Berdichev. His father was a businessman. He learned in a Talmud Torah in Uman. In 1919 the family immigrated to Romania, and B. learned in Kishinev in the "Beit Sefer Lflitim", then graduated hrb from Tsirelson's pro-gymnasium. At the same time he sang as an alto in the chorus with the cantors Tsipers and Dovidl Roytman.

In 1924 he immigrated with his family to the United States. Here he learned in the Iran prep school and worked as an employee in the office of "Tog", then there became a reporter and was given to an associate of a city editor A. H. Rubinstein. Attending the drama "Kdm", staged by Bulgakov, and during the Habimah visit in New York, he joined the Habima studio. Later he acted in Yiddish and Hebrew with the remaining division of the "Habimah" troupe, run by Nakhum Tsimakh, as well as Glagolin's English production of Lope De Vega's "Der gertner un der hunt".

In 1932 P. was a singer and recitator in concerts, including in "Kunts ring", acting in Maurice Schwartz's production of "Yoshe Kalb", "Brothers Ashkenazi", "Jacques Berson" and "The Wise Men of Chelm", and later with Lucy and Misha German in Chicago.

B. went on a tour across the United States and Canada for the Jewish National Workers Farband, with L. Harris and Bela Belerina, acting for two years in the troupe of the "Folks Theatre"

as a "seriozha" in Artsibashev's "Eyferzukht", "Enzl shukht" in Ressler's "60,000 gvrim". In Gottesfeld's "Mkhusnim", in Pirandelo's "Er, zi un der okt", in "Der urteyl", as well as the small-arts troupe "Tsu-lakh-es" and "Zalts un fefer" with Skuler, Bleich, Gladstone et al, and Bulgarov's English production of Gogol's "Revizor".

In 1942 he served in the American air flotilla, working in the military secrets section, learning as a radio operator in Wisconsin and in University of Illinois and graduated  as a translator of Russian and German.

He returned from military service, and he performed with Goldenburg in the Parkway Theatre, and in 1945 he came to the WEVD radio station as a news reporter, then became a permanent staff member as an announcer, commentator, and director with the kufs khulim programs. Since 1949 he has performed on the radio several times a week as a reader of Sholem Aleichem's works, and he also directed a children's riddle(?) program in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, under the name "Sharfe kepelekh".

Sh. and M. E.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2119.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.