Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Abe Kogut

Born on 19 December 1878 in Tost, near Tarnopol, Galicia. Father -- a tailor. He learned in a cheder. In 1884 he arrived with his parents in America, learned in a public school, at age thirteen began to work with suspenders, and a little later organized the drama clubs "Young Star Dramatic" and "Pleasure Club," where the members, most of the time were the workers in the suspenders shop, used to by himself put together stages in halls in which they used to perform.

S. Minesman writes:

"At age fourteen he organized in New York a dramatic circle under the name 'David Kessler Dramatic Club'. He then was an errand boy and earned three dollars a week. He had to give his entire earnings to his parents. For he had lost fifty cents and that sum he had invested in the cost of the 'dramatic club' which had rented a hall, bought their own stage and took it to their production. When they filled/completed a curtain, a member of the club, a mattress maker, oygeneyt a curtain that he had to carry back at night to a shop, entering so that one may not recognize that he did gegnbet there."

Later the club took a place on Fifth Street with a stage and produced (with Augenblick, Hokhshteyn, Gabel, Jennie Atlas, Kogut) Gabel's "Der zee-kenig".


When in New York the "Industrial Union" was founded, K. founded the "Industrial Workers Actors Union", of which he became the president and manager (where Berta Gerstin Rose Finkental, Nathan Goldberg, Isidore Meltzer, Annie Meltzer, Morris Tuchband, and many others, who had later left the stage, were members in this union, which had competed with Local 5, and had existed for three years.

At the same time, K. was the star comic and manager for twelve dollars a week, and he acted in Yiddish vaudeville in the Golden Rule, Victoria, Thalia and Clinton Music Hall.

K. gave on that performance, and when moving [cinema] pictures houses arrived, he was manager of that house and directed there in Yiddish "acts". Then he was manager of Loew's movie company in a movie house on Broadway. In 1913 K. chose to become manager of the Actors' Union Local 5 and left that office in 1920 in order to be able to devote himself to the two summer theatres (Second Avenue and Peoples), which he managed for two seasons. Later K. was dedicated to managing legitimate Yiddish theatres in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (Prospect and McKinley), managed a tour of Chaim Yablokoff ("Der payatz" [The Clown]"), and for Jacob Ben-Ami's troupe. In 1935 he was manager of a Yiddish theatre in Philadelphia, and in 1938 with Yablokoff's "National Theatre" in New York.

On 14 April 1938, K. passed away in New York after a long illness.

M. E.

  • S. Minesman [Regensburg] -- In der higer idisher teater velt, "Di yidishe velt," Philadelphia, 25 October 1935.





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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3046.

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