Born in 1888 in
Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, to very religious parents,
merchants. At the age of seventeen she married Naum
Gordon, an active social revolutionary, and because of
had to leave Russia. She initially immigrated to London,
and then to Toronto, Canada, where she acted in a
dramatic association and acted with them in Yiddish and
Russian for various organizations, later joining as a
professional in a local Yiddish troupe.
In 1909 she arrived with her
family in New York, where she entered into the Yiddish
theatres in order to act professionally. Once, acting in
a mother role with Sara Adler in Russian, she caught the
attention of the famous American writer Fannie Hearst,
who recommended that she perform in the mother role in
her play "Yumaresk" in English. G. took as such a deep
interest in the role, that later when the play was
adapted for a film she also acted there in that role,
and succeeded greatly in the play. According to A. Babitz, that they had taken over the name of the star
Elma Gluck and used her name, and that the role had made
her a star. She became popular under the name "The
Yiddish Mother", acting then in for almost twenty years
on the English stage and in various films, as well as the
legitimate English and vaudeville stage, among them the
play "Potash and Perlmutter".
In between-time, she also
used to perform in Yiddish.
Sick from cancer, she passed
away on 8 May 1948 in Los Angeles. her son, William, is
a director in the movie studio "Universal". Her sister,
Luba, is the wife of social Zionist-worker-activist
Avraham Babitz, former contributor to "Di idishe shtime"
in Los Angeles and one of the first members of New
York's "Progressive Dramatic Club".
In the necrology in "Di
idishe shtime", it is said:
"Even after twenty-five
years, she generally was active in all the prominent,
local institutions -- in Moshav Zknim, sanatoriums, help
for Europe, the rescue of children. Except that she was
always been willing to include and help people in need.
Her house was known as the Hollywood inn for all
bergekumen Jewish artists and ticket sellers.
From her sick-bed, she used
to work the telephone when there came about a need for a kindness or
a good deed.. She also helped
greatly in the building of the Western Jewish Institute"
[Rabbi Neches' shul, later "Shaari Tefilah"].
Sh. E. from
David Druck -- Vera
gordon, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 10 January 1935.
[--] -- Vera gordon,
bavuste bine un muvi artistin, plutsling geshtorben,
"Di idishe shtime", Los Angeles, 14 May 1948.
M. Shalit -- In los