Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Itzhak Friedman


F. was born on 11 November 1893 in Libivne, Poland. His father and grandfather were scribes. As a child he moved with his family to Kovel, Volin Gubernia, and there received a strong Orthodox upbringing.

After his father went off to America (1905), F. became a member in the "Kleine Bund," and several years later he went to his father in America (Newark, New Jersey). Here he became a frequent visitor to the Yiddish theatre, then a stand-in, and soon thereafter founded a dramatic circle, in which he performed as "Gedalye" in Gordin's "Brothers Lurie." Shortly thereafter he played in small roles with the local Yiddish theatre (director Jacob Frank), then he became a role re-writer, stsener and a small-role player in the same theatre (managers Nathan Goldberg and Abe Sincoff). Later, already as a member of the Yiddish Actors' Union, he played in Brownsville, New York, and continued to work as a role-writer in Philadelphia with Mike Thomashefsky, then there he began to play roles, and then played for six weeks with Bertha Kalich in New York's National Theatre.

During the First World War he served a year at the French front. He returned wounded, and then initially in the 1920-1 season he again began to play Yiddish theatre with Jacob P. Adler, Leon Blank, Samuel Goldenburg, Jacob Ben Ami and others. Then for three years he played in the troupes of Lucy and Misha German, where he had the opportunity to play several roles as "Chatzkel

Drachme" in "God, Man and Devil," "Gote" in "A Faraway Corner," "Elkanah" in "Green Fields," "Katarinarzh" in "Motke the Thief," "Prokop" in "Dorfsyung," "The Rabbi" in ""Yizkor," and "Isaac" in "The Idle Inn."

In 1926-28 he played in Chicago with Glickman, 1928-30 in Brooklyn's Rolland Theatre, 1930-31 he played in Boston, 1931-32 again in the Rolland Theatre.

On 8 November 1929 in the Hopkinson Theatre, under the direction of Jacob Rechtzeit, there was staged his comedy-drama, "Itzikl gonev," music by Arnold Perlmutter.

In 1930 F. published in the "Forward" his account of the war, under the name "A Year Between Life and Death," which in 1932 was published in New York in book form and quickly sold out in several reprints. In the introduction to the book Ab. Cahan wrote:

"Itzhak Freidman's book, 'A Year Between Life and Death,' was written with a simplicity of every sort, which is closely connected internally to the inerlekhn zin of reality, [more of citation left to translate...]"

On 21 February 1931 in the Rolland Theatre, there was staged the musical comedy in three acts, "Libe oyf oystsoln," by Israel Rosenberg and Itzhak Freidman, music by Sholom Secunda, with Misha and Lucy German in the main roles.

In 1931 in Toronto there was staged F.'s melodrama, "Hinter farshlosene tirn."

During the 1932 season, at the Hopkinson Theatre, there was staged with Menasha Skulnik in the title role, F.'s and Israel Rosenberg's, "Getzel Becomes a Groom," which then was also played by other comics across the entire world under various names, and in August 1938 by Leo Fuchs in Argentina.

F. joined the Second Avenue Theatre, where he played for several seasons, or with Menasha Skulnik and Herman Yablokoff, or especially with them, and here there were staged his plays:

In 1934, in the Lyric Theatre and then the Prospect Theatre, "Oh Promise Me."

In October 1935 "Papirossen" (in the McKinley Square Theatre).

In December 1936 "The Dishwasher." [regarding these three plays, the actor Herman Yablokoff declared in writing that they and the later mentioned were written on the themes of his songs, which had become very popular, were actually written by him, Yablokoff. F, as a professional writer, had them participate only with advice and actually received only a fert-khlk of oytorn honorarrium, due to taktishe temim, his name as author.]

In September 1937 Michalesko staged in the McKinley Theatre, F.'s and Simon Wolf's "Ven tsvey hertser libn (When Two Hearts Love)."

In October 1937 in the National Theatre there was staged "Git mir op mayn harts (Give Me Back My Heart)" [Also a Yablokoff play].

In 1938 in the National Theatre there was staged with Leo Fuchs F.'s "A freylekher khoylem (A Happy Dream)," and then in the Hopkinson Theatre.

In April 1938 in Argentina F.'s "Shmaye from Shnipishok" was performed.

In April 1938 Leo Fuchs staged in Buenos Aires F's "Der khelmer khokhem."

In February 1939 in the McKinley Square Theatre there was staged Israel Rosenberg's and F.'s melodrama "Zol a froy mukhl zayn?"

In November 1940 in the Second Avenue Theatre there was staged F.'s  [also a Yablokoff play] "Goldele dem bekers (Goldele the Baker's Daughter)," music by Ilya Trilling, with Yablokoff, Skulnik and Bella Mysell in the main roles.

In November 1940 in the Parkway Theatre there was staged F.'s and S. H. Cohen's "Der nayer mensh (The New Man)," a radio sensation, music by A. Olshanetsky, with Michalesko, Miriam Kressyn, Jacob Rechtzeit, Dora Weisman, Eli Mintz and Yetta Zwerling.

In October 1941 in the Public Theatre there was staged by Herman Yablokoff F.'s operetta, "Mayn vayse blum (My White Flower)" [also a Yablokoff play], music by Joseph Rumshinsky.

In March 1942 Leo Fuchs played in Chicago in F.'s "Men darf makhn a lebn (People Should Make a Life?)."

In the 1942 season Menasha Skulnik staged in the Second Avenue Theatre "Mayn khaver Yosl (My Friend Yosl)," in two acts and twelve scenes by Itzhak Friedman and William Siegel, lyrics by Isidore Lillian, music by Sholom Secunda.

On 9 October 1943 in the Second Avenue Theatre there was staged F.'s "Mazeldike teg (Lucky Days)," music by Sholom Secunda.

In New York's "Second Avenue Theatre" there was also staged F.'s "A gute bshurh (Good News)," music by Joseph Rumshinsky, and "Mazeldiker bukher," "Der shtroyener soldat (The Straw Soldier)," which Menasha Skulnik had portrayed.

In the archive of his widow one finds records on the following in Washington-registered plays:

  • "Mayn redio svithard (My Radio Sweetheart?)," a play in two acts (registered 11 December 1928)

  • "Mayn mans tokhter (My Husband's Daughter?)," a lebensbild in three acts (registered on 30 July 1931)

  • "Shmaye fun kolomea (Shmay From Kolomea?)," a musical comedy in two acts (registered 24 October 1936)

  • "Libe iz muzik (Love and Music?)," a romantic spectacle in two acts (registered 20 May 1937)

  • "Beiby feys dzhodzhis treyl (Baby Face George's Trial?)," a comedy in three acts (registered 10 August 1937)

  • "Yudl fort aheym (Yudl Goes Home?)," a comedy in two acts by Itzhak Friedman and Israel Rosenberg (registered 8 October 1937)

  • "Prints gedalya (Prince Gedalya?)," a comedy in two acts and ten scenes (registered 20 October 1938)

  • Farlozt zikh oyf mir," a comedy special written for Menasha Skulnik (registered 20 January 1947)

In an advertisement about Friedman's death there was also given the following plays:

  • "Yona zukht a kale (Yona Looks For a Bride?)"

  • "Yosl"

  • "Der reykher feter (The Rich Uncle?)"

  • "Vish mi lok (Wish Me Luck)"

On28 July 1950 F. passed away in New York.

Sh. E.

Sh. E. from Herman Yablokoff

  • L. Flamstein -- "Itzikl ganev" geshpilt in hopkinson teater, "Tog," N. Y., 15 November 1929.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Itzikl ganev" in hopkinson teater, "Forward," N. Y., 22 November 1929.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Libe oyf oystsolen," "Forward," N. Y., 7 March 1930.

  • B. I. Goldstein -- Oyf der teater evenyu, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 14 March 1930.

  • F. Lerner -- "Itzikl ganev oyfgefirt fun y. rechtzeit, "Rozarier leben," N' 325, 1930.

  • R. Sh. -- "Itsikl ganev" (fun itzhak fridman) in teater "ekselsior," "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 25 May 1930.

  • Jacob Botoshansky -- A milkhome-bukh fun a idishn aktor, "Prese," Buenos Aires, 28 December 1932.

  • Israel -- "Getzl vert a khosn," "Keneder odler," Montreal, 16 June 1933.

  • D. Kaplan -- A forshtelung fun dem lider "papirosn," Morgn frayhayt, N. Y., 25 October 1935.

  • David Marbo -- A mshad fun "papirosn," "Morgn frayhayt," N. Y., 25 1935.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Oh, promis mi," in mekinly teater, "Forward," N. Y., 10 January 1936.

  • B. I. Goldstein -- "Der dish-vasher," di naye piese in sekond evenyu teater, "Tog," N. Y., 11 December 1936.

  • S. Regensberg -- Yablokovs operete "der dish-vasher," "Idishe velt," Philadelphia, 28 April 1937.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Ven tsvey hertser liben," naye operete in mekinly skver teater, "Forward," N. Y., 1 October 1937.

  • L. Fogelman -- "Git mir op mayn harts" -- a naye operete in neshonal teaer, "Forward," N. Y., 15 October 1937.

  • Chaim Weiner -- Teater, "Der idisher kemfer," N. Y., 19 November 1937.

  • T. Beilin -- Teater-khronik, "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 1 May 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-retsenzies, "Di idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 1 May 1938.

  • Charles Rosianov -- "A frelekher khoylem," in hopkinson teater, "Forward," N. Y., 9 December 1938.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Zol a froy mukhl zayn?",  -- in mekinly skver teater, "Forward," N. Y., 3 March 1939.

  • E. Fleishman -- "Zol a froy mukhl zayn?", -- sensatsye shpil in mekinly skver teater, "Tog," N. Y., 5 March 1939.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-retsenzies, "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 28 April 1939.

  • A. L. Berkowitz -- "Goldele dem bekers" -- herman yablokov's moderner muzikalisher spektakel, "Idishe velt," Philadelphia, 23 April 1941.

  • Joel Entin -- A briv on an adres, "Der idisher kemfer," N. Y., 16 May 1941.

  • Sh. Zamd -- Shikago hot itst a "gizi" mit tsvey idishe teaters, "Forward," Chicago, 16 May 1941.

  • William Edlin -- "Mayn vayse blum" -- di naye rumshinsky, operete mit velkher yablokov hot geefent sezon in poblik teater, "Tog," N. Y., 23 October 1941.

  • H. Gutman -- H. yablokov's naye muzikalishe oyffirung in "poblik teater," "Morning Journal," N. Y. 24 October 1941.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- "Mayn vayse blum" in poblik teater, "Forward," N. Y, 7 November 1941.

  • Leon Kristol -- Der nayer sezon in yidishn teater, "Di tsukunft," N. Y., December 1941.

  • Sh. Zamd -- "Men darf makhen a leben" in doglas park teater, "Forward," Chicago, 27 March 1942.

  • Jacob Mestel -- "70 yor teater-repertour," New York, 1954, pp. 57,66.






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 4, page 3107.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.