Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Meyer Schwartz


Born on 26 April 1889 in Slonim, Polish-Lithuania. Soon after he moved with his family to Bialystok. His father was a merchant of new machines and bicycles. He learned in a cheder, completing a municipal governmental school, studied for a year in a private real school in Warsaw, from where he was disposed of due to his statements against an anti-Semitic teacher.

In May 1903 he arrived by himself in America, did various jobs, was also a newsboy and became passionately in love with the Yiddish theatre. Not having the material opportunities to see all of the productions, he became an apple seller in the gallery of the Thalia Theatre, where Kessler was playing then, with Mogulesco, Kalich et al. At the beginning of 1905, upon the request of his parents, he returned to Bialystok, also attending the Yiddish vaudeville houses, where he saw play there a one-acter, for which he felt nothing. He remained there for only a few months, and he decided to try out his writing powers. On 24 November 1905 there was staged in the large vaudeville house, the Irving Music Hall, Schwartz's first one-acter, "A getvungen lebn (A Forced Life?)" (for the honorarium of five dollars.)

Schwartz left for the shop of leather walking trousers, where he had worked, and he took to writing sketches for the vaudeville houses. In 1906 he was engaged by Sigmund Weintraub for the Thalia Music Hall as a prompter and as the deliverer of three-act sketches every week (for an honorarium of ten dollars a week.)

With time Schwartz became very popular as a sketch writer, and his three-act sketches were also written for other Yiddish vaudeville houses.

On 9 May 1911 there was staged in the Union Theatre on Eldridge Street Schwartz's first play, "Kinder fun der ist seyd (Children of the East Side)," which was also staged in the Grand Music Hall, the Lipzin Theatre, and also across the province. In 1925 the same play under the name, "Gasn fun nyu-york (Streets of New York)," was staged in Philadelphia, and then in Joseph Kessler's McKinley Square Theatre in the Bronx, New York.

In 1911 there was also staged in the Union Theatre Schwartz's play, "Di familye frumkin (The Family Frumkin),' "Di ende (The End)," and in the Grand Music Hall and the Third Street Theatre, "Der toes (The Mistake)."

In 1913 there was staged Schwartz's, "Tsurik tsum lebn (Back to Life?)" at the Third Street Theatre, and in the same year Schwartz again returned to Bialystok. In a short time he associated himself with Komaneyets' troupe in Warsaw's Elyzeum Theatre, but soon he wanted to return to America but couldn't, due to the outbreak of the First World War.

Schwartz remained in Europe for eight years. And so he became an employee of a German theatre as a stage manager during the German Occupation, and he also acted in German in a small role. Later he organized a youth group and performed with them in Yiddish, mainly in plays that were written by Jacob Gordin. With time the amateur group took on a professional character, and a number of the participants became professional actors. In 1917 he married Rukhele Slopak (the actress from "Sonechka" in Dymow's "Hnudr hntskhi" in Zemach's Hebrew group Habima), and later he founded with Yehuda Grinhoyz, Khash and trilling, the "Geshikht" troupe, which existed for only a short period of time, and in 1918 Schwartz traveled to Moscow, acting there for a short time in Zhitomirski's Yiddish troupe, and not being contented with the charactger of the theatre, he traveled to Vilna, where he joined as a character-comic the "First Yiddish War Theatre" (with Azro and Alomis), which was founded there, where he played the role of "Shakhna" in "The Idle Inn," "Abrush" in "The Carcass," and other productions. On Passover 1919 Vilna was taken by the Poles who staged a pogrom of the Jews, and Schwartz became lightly wounded. He returned to Bialystok, where he joined in with the miniature theatre troupe of Solomon and Sonia Kustin, Pesach'ke Burstein, Ida Ervest et al, and outside of acting he wrote one-acters for the troupe based on actual topics. The troupe played in Vilna, Lodz, Minsk, but due to the Russian-Polish War, he had to flee, and on the way he became mobilized by the Russian Army, where he served as secretary on General Tukhachevsky's staff until the end of the war.  With great hardship he managed to once again return to Bialystok, from where he traveled to America in August 1921.

Being aware of the difficult union conditions, he decided then to continue to be be a prompter and wrote plays, and on 9 December 1921 he staged here at the Liberty Theatre with Leonid Snegoff his play, "Der shreklekher emes (The Ugly Truth)," dramatized in four acts.

On 17 March 1922 there was staged at the Lipzin Theatre Schwartz's comedy, "Lokshn" (a parody of Gogol's "Revizor"), with Rudolph Schildkraut as "Shmuel Poplavitsky," which also later was played in the province. On 16 November 1923 the same play was produced in the Liberty Theatre under the name, "Milyonen (Millions)."

In 1923 Schwartz was taken in as a prompter as a member of the Yiddish [Hebrew] Actors' Union, where for a time he was an officer, as the Executive Secretary and Vice-President.

On 28 March 1924, in the Hopkinson Theatre, there was staged, "A shpil mit fayer," a tragi-comedy by M. Schwartz, music by Joseph Rumshinsky (with Ludwig Satz, Celia Adler, Anna and Isidore Hollander et al.) On 2 June 1924 the same play was staged at Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre under the name, "A khosn oyf shpas."

On 24 December 1926 there was staged Jacob Kalich's "Mamele" at the Second Avenue Theatre, a comedy in three acts by Meyer Schwartz, music by Joseph Rumshinsky, with Molly Picon in the title role. The comedy was then staged across the American province, Europe and Argentina. It was also staged in America by Gertrude Bulman and Diana Goldberg, and during the Second World War by Sidi Thal in Soviet Russia. In 1939 the comedy was filmed in Warsaw by Joseph Green, and as a sound film played across the entire Jewish world.

In 1926 in Philadelphia at the Arch Street Theatre there was staged by Rudolph Schildkraut Schwartz's "Der goldener shidukh" ("Yedn tog," called by the author) with whom Zaslavski guest-starred later or a long time in Poland. In 1929 Joseph Schoengold guest-starred  with the play in Argentina, and in 1930 Zaslavski staged the play in London, under the name, "Man un vayb (Man and Wife)".

On 7 December 1928 there was staged by Nathan Goldberg at the Prospect Theatre, "Der kenig fun gemblers (The King of Gamblers)," a time-drama by Meyer Schwartz, music by P. Laskowsky, and on 13 December 1929 at the Prospect Theatre.

On 5 October 1929 there was staged at the Prospect Theatre by Nathan Goldberg, "Di groise shvester (The Big Sister), a comedy by Meyer Schwartz, lyrics by Nakhum Stutchkoff, music by Philip Laskowsky." The same play, under the name, "Shvester libe," was staged on 1 November 1929 at the Rolland Theatre, music by Sholom Secunda and staged by Misha German. In 1930 the play was staged by the Hollanders in Canada.

In 1929 in Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre, Jacob Cone staged Schwartz's operetta, "Di yidishe shtunde" (with Celia Adler, Irving Grossman, Pesach'ke Burstein et al), which on 20 December 1929 was staged at the National Theatre under the name, "Mazl in libe, a musical lebensbild by Meyer Schwartz, lyrics by Jacob Jacobs, music by Alexander Olshanetsky, was staged by Michal Michalesko."

On 8 January 1930 in the Lyric Theatre there was staged by Sam Auerbach, "Dem tatns tekhterl, a musical comedy by Meyer Schwartz." In 1926 with Diana Goldberg and Irving Grossman in the Prospect Theatre, and in 1927 in Philadelphia through them under the name, "Der kleyner mazik." Later it was also staged in Argentina.

In 1932 Samuel Goldinburg staged, first in the Lawndale Theatre in Chicago, then in New York's Second Avenue Theatre, and in 1936 in Argentina, "Unter eyn dakh (Under One Roof)" by Meyer Schwartz and Rachel Field.

On 15 January 1932 Schwartz staged in Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre his play, "Oyfn mizrekh front (On the Eastern Front)," which on 4 June 1936 was staged by Diana Goldberg in Argentina under the name, "Di kleyne sukherte."

On 16 March 1938 in the Hopkinson Theatre there was staged Schwartz's play, "Milkhome volkns (War Clouds)."

In December 1940 in the Second Avenue Theatre there was staged under the direction of Robert Harris Schwartz's Yiddish translation of Sidney Kingsley's play, "Men in White." In July 1942 Solomon Stramer staged in the Ambu Theatre in Buenos Aires, "Der ershte shney (The First Snow), in three acts, four scenes by Meyer Schwartz."

Schwartz also wrote the plays: "Di drite perzon," "Ire beste yorn," "Shvarts oyf vays," which were not staged.

Since 1943 Schwartz withdrew from the Yiddish theatre and went into commerce.

Sh. E.

  • B. Gorin-- "History of the Yiddish Theatre," N.Y., Vol. 2, p. 282.

  • Israel the Yankee--"Der shreklikher emes," "Yidgbl"t," N.Y., 13 December 1921.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- "Der shreklikher emes" in liberty teater, "Der tog," N.Y., 16 December 1921.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- Shildkroyt in a gelungener komedie in liptsin teater, "Forward," N.Y., 21 March 1922.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- "Lokshn," a naye komedie in liptsin teater, "Der tog," N.Y., 24 March 1922.

  • Leon Kusman-- "Lokshn," "Morning Journal," N.Y., 24 March 1922.

  • A.M. Mendelbaum-- "A myuser skandal in 3 aktn mit ludvig zatz als hoypt-skandalist, "Yidisher zhurnal," Toronto, 3 June 1924.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "A shpil fun kontrastn, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 6 June 1924.

  • A. Drazshner-- A naye hfkrus fun a "dramaturg," "Der tog," N.Y., 13 June 1924.

  • Ab. Cahan-- "Dos mamele" fun meyer shvartz, "Forward," N.Y., 5 January 1927.

  • L.S. Bieli-- "Dos mamele," "Morning Journal," N.Y., 7 January 1927.

  • A.M. Mandelbaum-- Mali pikon in a nayer rol, "Frayhayt," N.Y., 7 January 1927.

  • [--]-- Play Review, "Brooklyn Star," New York, January 9, 1927.

  • B. Botwinick-- Mali pikon in "mamele," "Veker," N.Y., 15 January 1927.

  • Garlick-- "Kid Mother," "Evening Journal," New York, February 14, 1927.

  • M. Kipnis-- "Der goldener shidukh," "Haynt," Warsaw, 19 October 1928.

  • I.B. [Botoshansky]-- "Der goldener shidukh," "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 2 June 1929.

  • Gun tsadik [N. Tsuker]-- Yozef sheingold in an intersanter drama, "Argentiner tog," Buenos Aires, 2 June 1929.

  • Sh. R. [Sh. Rozhansky]-- "Der goldener shidukh" fun meyer shvartz, oyfgefirt fun yozef sheingold, "Yidishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 2 June 1929.

  • William Edlin-- A blik in di nyu yorker yidishe teater-velt," "Der tog," N.Y., 11 October 1929.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- "Di groise shvester" i prospekt teater, "Forward," N.Y., 18 October 1929.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- Tsvey iberdrashungen, "Morning Journal," 15 November 1929.

  • Teater-mensh-- Fun yidishn teater, "Nayer folksblat," Lodz, 18 November 1929.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- Oyf der teater-evenyu, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 29 November 1929.

  • Aaron Kanievsky-- Yidishe radio shtunde fareinigt tsvey hertser vos hobn zikh amol gelibt, "Der tog," Philadelphia, 26 December 1929.

  • William Edlin-- Tsvey naye muzikalishe piese, "Der tog," N.Y., 27 December 1929.

  • D. Kaplan-- "Mazl in libe" in neshonal teater, "Forward," N.Y., 27 December 1929.

  • A. Frumkin-- "Mazl in libe" in neshonal teater, "Brukliner yidishe shtime," N.Y., N'26, 1929.

  • Max Karper-- Michalesco Scores Again in New York Play "Lucky in Love," "N.Y. American," New York, December 30, 1929.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- Oyf der teater evenyu, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 17 January 1930.

  • L. Fleischman-- "Dem tatns tekhterl" in lyric teater, "Der tog," N.Y., 31 January 1930.

  • Kritikus [Morris Mayer]-- "Man un vayb" fun m. shvartz, oyfgefirt fun zaslavski, "Di tsayt," London, 14 March 1930.

  • I. Shayak-- Groiser erfolg fun lusi un misha german in der nayer prese, "Di groise shvester," "Di post," London, 30 June 1930.

  • I. Rabinowitz-- Di holender trupe in montreol, "Keneder adler," Montreal, 29 October 1930.

  • Aaron Kanievsky-- "Di groise shvester," a piese fun besern sort, geshpilt erfolg reykh in ertsh strit teater, "Der tog," Philadelphia, 15 November 1930.

  • N. Frank-- Mali pikon als "mamele," "Parizer haynt," 28 December 1931.

  • A beobakhter-- Di naye piese, "oyf'n mizrekh-front," Forward, Philadelphia, 17 January 1932.

  • S. Regensburg-- "Oyf'n mizrekh-front,"-- a piese fun besern sort in artsh, "Yidishe velt," Philadelphia, 19 January 1932.

  • Ab. Cahan-- "Unter eyn dakh," Forward, N.Y., 12 February 1932.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- Groiser moralisher derfolg, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 19 February 1932.

  • P. Katz-- Mali pikon als "mamele," "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 10 April 1932.

  • Sh. R.-- "Unter eyn dakh," a rirende forshtelung mit mos, "Ad"ts," Buenos Aires, 26 April 1936.

  • Wolf Bressler-- "Under eyn dakh," "Morgn tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 27 April 1936.

  • T. Beilin-- "Di groise shvester," "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 26 May 1935.

  • W. Bressler-- "Di kleine milkhome, sukhrte," dort, 6 June 1936.

  • T. Beilin-- "Di kleine milkhome soykherte," "Prese," Buenos Aires, 7 June 1936.

  • M. Melamed-- Di kleine dina goldberg in a groiser role in linkoln teater, "Di yidishe velt," Philadelphia, 26 October 1937.

  • B.I. Goldstein-- "Milkhome-volkns," a piese far eyn ovnt, "Tog," N.Y., 19 March 1938.

  • I. Horowitz-- Di freind mit velkhe mali pikon hot geshafn ir rolie in dem film, "mamele," Der tog," N.Y., 25 December 1938.

  • Kh. Gutman-- Di naye muvies fun der vokh, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 26 December 1938.

  • Ab. Cahan-- Mali pikon als "mamele" in a yidisher toki, "Forward," N.Y., 30 December 1938.

  • A. M--n [A. Margolis]-- Dina goldberg als "mamele," Di tsveyte vokh in "doglas park teater," "Der yidisher kurier, "Chicago, 27 January 1939.

  • Aaron Kanievsky-- A yidishe toki hot di vert gezen tsu veren, "Der tog," Philadelphia, 8 February 1939.

  • A. Hinterkulisnik [Dr. A. Margolis]-- "Mamele," dort, 7 April 1939.

  • L. Fogelman-- Di yidishe oyffirung fun der barimter amerikaner drama, "men in vhayt," in sekond evenyu teater, "Forward," N.Y., 27 December 1940.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky-- Mali pikon's khn bashert un bakhnt dem yidisher film, "mamele," "Da"ts," Buenos Aires, 6 August 1940.

  • V.B.-- "Mamele," "Morgn tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 7 August 1940.

  • Shmuel Rozhanksy-- Teater retsenzies, "Da"ts," Buenos Aires, 20 July 1940.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 2524.

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