Born on 16 December 1896 in
Hertsa, Romania. His grandfather was a badkhan, a
prayer leader, a matchmaker and in the end a sexton.
Father -- owner of a shop.
Learned in a cheder,
completed two classes in a Romanian primary school, but
for a year he learned in a modernized Yiddish school and
then began self-education.
At the age of twelve he
became independent, and served as a servant(?) in a
manufacturing business, was an agent for various
newspapers, a writer in a counting house, a broker in
the bourse, a teacher, a flower seller, a carrier, a
cigarette seller, etc.
At the age of sixteen or
seventeen he acted in dramatic circles, where he also
was the regisseur and author. In 1915 he acted for a
short time in Romanian in a professional Romanian troupe
in Galatz, served in the army, and in September 1917
fled to Russia, where he acted with "amateurs". In June
1918 he joined as a professional in Bidesko's troupe in
Kamenets Podolsk under the pseudonym "Ben-Ami". After
wandering across Russia until 1920 with various troupes,
G. entered into the Odessa Jewish State Theatre in Minsk
under the pseudonym of Bertanov. He traveled to Moscow,
participated in the Sholem Aleichem theatre there, and
when the theatre closed down, he joined as a student in
the theatre school of the Moscow Jewish Chamber Theatre,