G. was born in 1873 in
Lemberg, Eastern Galicia, to well-to-do, pious parents.
He learned in a cheder and in school, where as a
mezzo-soprano, he became the "star" of the singing
class. The teacher of the children, who also was the
conductor of the Lemberg synagogue, took him into the
synagogue choir, but G.'s religious father did not
permit it, that his one son should sing in a synagogue
where young boys sang together with young girls.
Later G., through the same
chorus director, who had worked with the city cantor,
Aaron Sholom Sherman, who was charmed so by his voice,
that he took him into his chorus -- with the consent of
his G.'s father -- with a contract that he may for the
first three years for the sum of seventy-four ranish.
With the cantor, G. learned
music theory, and with him he sang until he had advanced
During that span of that
time, G. attended the Polish and Yiddish theatres, and he
decided to become a Yiddish actor.
The conductor of Yakov Ber
Gimpel's troupe, Eskreyz, had him soon rise up as a
chorus singer, and the theatre director of the
troupe then, Yosef Veynshtok, had begun to give him small
G. used to have a nature to
not only be in small roles, but in all the roles of the
plays, and that played an important role in his career:
When the main actor of the
theatre, Yosef Vaynshtok, suddenly disappeared
from the theatre, G. had on the initiative of
the conductor Eskreyz, the opportunity of
performing in the title role of the operetta
"Shlomo HaMelekh (King Solomon)", and
immediately drew a great deal of attention to himself.
Later, when Goldfaden came
to Lemberg to perform his "Latkhmud", G.
acted as "Akhitufl". Later, Adler came to
Lemberg and took to the popular actors of the
troupe, and thus the local theatre was abided to
support only G.
When in several
years ("Professor") Horowitz came around to Lemberg, he
assembled a troupe for Romania, also taking in
In 1900 Horowitz took
his troupe over to America, and G. performed in
a minor role at the Windsor
Theatre. In 1904 G. was engaged by Adler, and
initially in Gordin's repertoire he revealed
himself in such a way that Gordin wrote
for him the role of "Israel Yakov der
zeygermakher (Israel Yakov the Clockmaker)" in
"Der meturef (The Worthless)", and "Kalman
Moshe" in "Der fremder (The Stranger)". Then G.
acted in operas and melodramas with
Thomashefsky, later again with Adler, then in
Edelstein's theatre, in Irving Place, in the
Grand Theatre, from 1922-7 in Gabel's theatre,
from 1927-9 in the Prospect Theatre, and then in
1929-30 in Satz's Folks Theatre.
-- Bilder galerye fun unzere idishe
shoyshpiler, "Der tog", N. Y, 3 February
Peter Graf --
Moment fun aktyorn-lebn, "Teater-zikhrunuts",
(Editor, Z. Zylbercweig), Vilna, 1928, pp.