Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Malka Kornstein


K. was born in April 1899 in Lublin, Poland, into an intelligent family of high standing, where she realized in herself a deep love for publishing the Yiddish word, and she used to from her early childhood recite and read for families and guest creations of the Yiddish writer.

After the death of her father, she was "eng gevoren" in her home with her stepmother, and as an eleven-year-old girl she traveled out to Warsaw, where she had a job in a cigar factory.

At the age of sixteen she came to America, where she went happily to work in New York in a cigar factory. Here, as was observed by gev. husband Yakov Tikman, "where Yiddish language had really filled the air, she had aroused in the young Malka a love for her childhood for publishing the Yiddish word. She joined on her own a 'progressive dramatic club', the serious ideological amateur group, with the task of improving and elevating the level of Yiddish theatre. She very quickly became a major force in an acting ensemble of this talented group, and she had a deep oysgenumen with her colleagues and with the leader of the group, the well-known literary and theatre critic Joel Entin. She often with praise became cited in the theatre pages in the Yiddish press, and she was brought to the attention of professional Yiddish theatre directors, and she had received a range of offers to act professionally, but she was affected by


 Entin's realistic approach to the theatre, [and] she did not accept the proposals."

At the beginning of 1914, when the "Progressive Dramatic Club" had dissolved, her stage career was stopped., but she had partly taken up with the various sporadic attempts at a better, Yiddish theatre. So she had participated when Jacob Bzemi had at the end of 1914 performed in the "Neighborhood Playhouse" Peretz's one-acters, in 1916 she had with great onzen participated in the offering of David Pinski's "Gavri and the Women" under the direction of Yehoshua Gordon in the "Garden Theatre", and acted in the beginning of 1918 when Jacob Ben-Ami had performed during the summer season in Schwartz's "Irving Place Theatre".

K. also was made popular with her radio program as a story teller under the name of "Mume Malka", and, together with her husband, became active in the National Worker's Union and in the Yiddish folk-shuls.

Her success as a professional actress was destined to be only on the English stage on Broadway; in 1932 -- as "Mrs. Becker" in Elmer Rice's "Counsellor -at-Large" (with Paul Muni in the title role), and then in the film (with John Barrymore, in 1934) -- in "Spring Song" (with Francine Larrimore), and in "Having a Wonderful Time".

In February 1944, K. passed away in New York.

Sh. E. from Yakov Tikman.

  • Celia Adler -- "Celia Adler dertseylt", New York, 1959, pp. 89, 504-6, 567-8, 604.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3148.

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