Lives in the Yiddish Theatre
Volume 8

MORE SHORT BIOGRAPHIES CREATED FOR A NEW ONLINE VOLUME
OF ZALMEN ZYLBERCWEIG'S " LEXICON OF THE yIDDISH THEATRE"

 

Irving Grossman
(Itzhak Leyb)
 

 

G. was born on 20 December 1900 in Boston, America.

His father was a member in a dramatic club, his mother a Yiddish actress, and an aunt who was a chorus singer in the Yiddish theatre. He learned Yiddish with a teacher and finished public and high school in Chicago, where his parents, who had directed a Yiddish itinerant troupe, had in the meantime settled.

Until age fourteen he acted in children's roles in the local troupe, and in school he took part in the yearly English productions.

The first role as an adult: "Menasha" in Gordin's "Yidisher glikh," and from then on he has acted in buff comical roles in his father's troupe.

In 1919 he acted for a season in the English theatre with the Belasco Stack Company in San Francisco.

Thomashefsky, who had seen him act in Cleveland, engaged him in 1923 for his Yiddish theatre on Broadway in New York where he performed in the lover roles, and there he acted for twenty-eight weeks. Then he toured with the troupe across the province, acting a season in Boston with Julius Nathanson, two seasons in

 the National with Louie Goldberg, and during the summer of 1927 and 1928 in English vaudeville on the Fox circuit.

Following a recording contract with Columbia Records, and playing the Fox & Orpheum circuits with the likes of Sophie Tucker, Clayton, Jackson & Durante (Jimmy), G. was Molly Picon's leading man in Philadelphia, and then on Second Avenue as well.

 His first marriage to actress Goldie Lubritsky ended in divorce after seven years, but it produced a daughter, Gloria. In 1935 he married Yiddish actress Diana Goldberg. The two performed together in Yiddish vaudeville, the cabaret circuits of the Catskills and Miami and headlined on Second Avenue in such shows as "The Queen of Broadway," "Warsaw at Night," "Fishel De Gerotener" (along side Menasha Skulnik), and countless others.

In the 1950s he and his wife partnered with Irving Jacobson, Mae Schoenfeld, Julius Adler and Henrietta Jacobson at the Second Avenue and National Theatres, producing and starring in numerous musicals written by Rumshinsky and Secunda. Their musical comedy night club act took them all over the world, and they were featured in the reviews, "Bagels & Yox" and "Farfel Follies."

G. made his film debut in 1949 with "Catskill Honeymoon."  Known as an avid "fund raiser," G. appeared at many events for the early sale of Israeli Bonds in the 50s, and his renditions of Hymie Jacobson's epic "Lozt Mich Leben (Let Me Live)" and "Sing, Israel, Sing" helped fill the coffers for the newborn state.

For most of his life G. was heavily involved in theatrical unions and organizations. Under the mentoring of Reuben Guskin, G. served as president of the Hebrew Actors' Union from 1952-54, a board member of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance for some thirty years, a national board member of AGVA (The American Guild of Variety Artists), and their delegate to the 4 A's; the overseeing body of all performing artists' unions.

In 1960 G. retired from active performing and producing and became an executive of AGVA. He passed away on 24 March 1964 in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was survived by his wife Diana, son Rick, daughter Gloria Winarick, brother Joseph, sister Miriam Grossman Blake, two grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.


M. E. and Sh. E. by his son Rick Grossman.
 


 

 

 

 


 

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You can find Irving's original Lexicon biography in Volume 3, page 2123.
 

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