Lives in the Yiddish Theatre
SHORT BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE
aS DESCRIBED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"

1931-1969
 

Isidore Lillian

 

L. was born on 7 September 1882 in Rzeszow (Reyshe), Galicia, to poor parents. As a child of ten years, he arrived in America, and at the age of sixteen he entered into a dramatic union, and a year later in a Yiddish vaudeville house, where he excelled not only as an actor, but also as a composer of one- and three-act sketches, for which he wrote the lyrics at the same time.

Circa 1905 L. began to write plays regularly, and in the same year Kopelman's Thalia Music Hall began to stage  L.'s three-act play "Der bn surr zmurh".

In 1908 in the Union Vaudeville House, L.'s play "Nyu-york faftogs" was staged, which on 16 March 1928 was performed at the Lyric Theatre under the name "In harts fun nyu-york", "Di zilberne hokhtsayt" and "Amerikaner kinder", which had on 13 April 1917 been performed in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Di tsebrokhene heym", and on 20 October 1923 in the same theatre under the name "Keytn fun libe". The same play also was simultaneously performed under the name "Dem khazans tokhter".

In 1910 in the West Side Theatre, there was staged his plays: "Sheyne kleyder", "Mord ershter grad" (performed on 26 November 1926 in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Leykhtzinike meydlekh"), "LIbe un milyonen", "Kul shdi", and "Man, foy un freynt" (performed on 2 July 1916 in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Zindike nshmus").

 

In 1911 his comedy "Gimpel beynush der shadkhan" was staged.

On 29 October 1915 -- in the East Side Theatre -- his five-act play "Mit 8 yor tsurik" (performed on 29 November 1928 in the Lyric Theatre in a new adaptation under the name "Tseshterte khlumus"), and in Newark his comedy "Mayn kuzine lina", which on 13 October 1916 was performed in Brooklyn's Lyric Theatre under the name "Shkhl darf men hobn", and on 27 September 1927 in the McKinley Square Theatre under the name "Lina fun palestina", libretto of Isidore Lillian, music by Benjamin Blank".

On 15 December 1916 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged L.'s "Zayn letster urteyl" (earlier performed through Sam Shneyer in Kessler's Roof Garden).

0n 12 January 1917 he had in the Lyric Theatre staged his four-act play "Zayn ershte gelibte", on 2 March 1917, in the same theatre -- the four-act drama with a prologue "Far zayn muters zind" (that on 27 November 1924 again was staged in the same theatre under the name "Der gasn-yung"), on 15 September 1917, in the same theatre -- his four-act play "A froys zind", and on 14 December 1917 (staged through N. Goldberg), in the Lenox Theatre L.'s "2 shvesters (Two Sisters)", which on 31 January 1919 was staged through the author in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Ven blinde zeen, in three acts with a prologue and epilogue".

On 3 May 1918 in Gabel's Theatre there was staged L.'s "Der prayz far a meydls gud-teym, a lebensbild in four acts", which also has been performed under the name "A kind az a heym".

On 22 March 1919 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged through the author -- his play "A meydls gute harts", and on 27 September 1919 -- "Dos harts fun a kind, a lebensbild in four acts", which later was staged by Joseph Kessler in the McKinley (Square) Theatre under the name "Erlekhe ganevim", and also on 13 October 1922 it was staged at the Hopkinson Theatre under the name "Dor harts fun a toten".

A significant place in L.'s career as a dramatist is with his play "Dos shteifkind fun der velt (The Stepchild of the World), an allegorical musical drama in four acts", which on 26 December 1919 [a night earlier there it was performed under another name], it was staged at the Lyric Theatre, and on 2 September 1920 it was staged by Samuel Goldenburg (with music by Joseph Rumshinsky) in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre. This play was performed for a long time, and for the first time aroused the attention of the critics to L.'s activity as a dramatist.

A similar fate was had by L.'s "Gerekhtikeyt farn yid, an allegorical play in four acts, music by Herman Wohl", staged on 3 April 1920 in Thomashefsky's theatre with Jacob P. Adler in the role of "Firsht Israel". The same play, under the name "Prints Israel", with Joseph Schoengold in the main role, was staged on 12 February 1926 in the Lyric Theatre. The play also was performed in other troupes under the name "Yeder yid".

On 10 September 1920 in Thomashefsky's theatre, under the direction of Thomashefsky, there was staged L.'s "Mayn tatens vayb, a comedy in three acts, music by L. Friedsell". The same comedy in an adapted form was staged by the author on 16 April 1927 in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Hello Mama", later performed under the name "Mazel Tov Mama", and on 11 January 1932 (in a revised adaptation) it was staged by Menasha Skulnik in the Hopkinson Theatre under the name "Hotel Lefkowitz".

On 26 November 1920 in the Lyric Theatre there was staged by the author his "Mama, kum a heym, a comedy-drama in four acts", and on 26 December 1920 -- his play "Fartribn fun gan-eden (Expelled from the Garden of Eden)".

On 23 April 1921 in the Lenox Theatre, there was staged L.'s melodrama "A libes nest", on 24 November in Boston -- the comedy "Geklint un gefrest", which on 25 September 1923 was staged in the Lyric Theatre by the author under the name "Galitsianer un litvakes, a laugh-comedy in four acts", and on 23 December 1921 in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre -- "Der rebe hot geheysn freylekh zayn, a libretto in three acts by I. Lillian, adapted and staged by Samuel Rosenstein, music by Joseph Rumshinsky.

In January 1922 in Boston's Grand Opera House there was staged his "Yedes meydl", an allegorical drama with music in three acts with a prologue", which on 3 November 1922 was staged by Max Gabel in his 116th Street Theatre. As for the play, it was given music by L. Friedsell, and the main roles were performed by Jennie Goldstein and Max Gabel. the same play on 25 November 1927 was performed in New York's Lyric Theatre under the name "Der veg fun yedes meydel".

On 29 December 1922, through Louis Kramer, there was staged at the Hopkinson Theatre L.'s four-act drama "Der shklaf fun der velt".

On 16 February 1923 at the Hopkinson Theatre there was staged his four-act play "A meydls ziser kholum" (which also was performed under the name "Far der khupe", and "Farloyrn un gefunen"). On 13 April 1923, in the Lenox Theatre (with St. Clair in the title role), -- "A kale on a khosn" (music by A. Perlmutter), which on 8 February 1929 in an altered form was performed in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Khosn-kale mazel tov" (music by Benjamin Blank); on 11 September 1923, in the Lyric Theatre L.'s musical melodrama "Dos land fun hofnung", and on 25 December 1923, in the Lyric Theatre, L.'s and Israel Rosenberg's "Yakov's kinder (Jacob's Children), a musical folks-shtik in four acts".

On 15 February 1924 in the Lyric Theatre there was staged L.'s comedy "Sadie vu krikhstu" (that remained in repertoire for a long time), and on 31 October 1924 it was staged in the Lenox Theatre, with music by A. Olshanetsky and St. Clair in the title role). On 19 April 1924 -- the four-act melodrama "Goldene liebe" (which on 3 February 1928 was performed in the same theatre under the name "Libe tsu farkoyfn"); on 29 September 1924 -- "Falshe geter, a lebensbild in four acts, music by A. Perlmutter" (which on 1 May 1925 was performed in the Lenox Theatre under the name "Leydis fun der nakht (Ladies of the Night)"; on 26 December 1924 -- the operetta "Palestiner liebe (Palestine Love)", with music by A. Perlmutter, and on 31 December 1924, in the Lenox Theatre, there was staged by N. Goldberg -- the melodrama "A gring lebn".

In 1925 there was staged L.'s play "Di royte maske (The Red Mask)", and on 18 December 1925, in the Lyric Theatre, it was staged by the author (with Joseph Shoengold in the main role), his operetta "Mit dem rbins kkh" (music by A. Perlmutter). The operetta was later very often performed on the Yiddish stage in America and Europe.

On 21 October 1926 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged "Vu iz mayn vayb? (Where is my Wife?)", which on 2 March 1927 again was staged by Samuel Goldenburg in the National Theatre under the name "Dos yidl fun der sut" (music by A. Olshanetsky), and on 10 December 1926, in the Lyric Theatre -- the drama "Gegnbete liebe", which later, with additional music, was staged under the name "Soldatn-liebe".

On 14 January 1927 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged his operetta "Khaloymes fun libe", which on 4 February, under the name "Dos lid fun yugnt" (music by A. Perlmutter) was staged by N. Goldberg in the Lenox Theatre. The operetta was brought to Europe without the knowledge of the author, where it was performed with great success on the Yiddish stages there.

On 18 March 1927 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged L.'s lebensbild "Froyen fun der nakht"; on 10 October 1927 -- his operetta "Ikh hob dikh lieb", later performed as "Dos meydl vos ikh hob lieb" (musi by Lillian and Grekhsman), and on 23 December 1927 -- the operetta "Dos sheynste meydl (The Prettiest Girl)".

On 23 February 1928 in the Lyric Theatre, there was staged L.'s melodrama "A meydl fun der untervelt"; on 5 October 1928 -- the operetta "A malka on a melekh" (music by Benjamin Blank, with Betty Frank in the title role), and on 7 November 1928 -- "Leberdike skhurh" (music by Benjamin Blank).

On 5 October 1929 in the Liberty Theatre, there was staged L.'s operetta in three acts with a prologue, "Di yidn in palestine" (music by Sam Grekhtman), and on 15 November 1929 -- his lebensbild "Amerikaner yugnt" (also performed under the name "Der yidisher preyz-fayter").

On 29 October 1930, through Ludwig Satz, there was staged in the Public Theatre L.'s comedy "Der trombenik" (music by A. Ellstein), which later was performed by Satz in Europe under the name "Der leidikgeyer", and in 1932 by Hymie Jacobson in the Lyric Theatre under the name "Dem leidikgeyers kale".

On 30 October 1932 in the Second Avenue Theatre, in the "Forward Vacation Follies", there was staged L.'s sharzh in two acts, "Shulamis fun montiselo" (music by Goldfaden and Rumshinsky).

L. also wrote other plays that were until today not performed, including an allegorical satire in two acts of Yiddish theatre life, "Theater-eynname un oysgabe". He also had drew up and composed almost all the musical numbers for musical plays, and wrote hundreds of songs ("lyrics"), which were sung in the operettas of other authors. A great part of L.'s songs were published in the musical numbers of the successful operettas that were published by the theatre activities.

L. performs until today on the stage as a character-comic. L. also for several years was a co-director and subsequently the director of the Lyric Theatre in Williamsburg (New York), which took the name "Lillian's Lyric Theatre".

At the beginning of the 1929-30 season, L. led the management together with Louis Weiss in the Liberty Theatre, and in December 1929 he performed in Yiddish vaudeville in the McKinley (Square) Theatre. Since then L. has acted in various theatres in New York and the provinces.

None of L.'s plays, up until today, were not published in print.
 

M. and Sh. E.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, p. 154.

  • B. Gorin -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 281.

  • [--] -- A liriker fun idishen teater, "Tog", N. Y., 1 June 1918.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- Dos shtief-kind fun der velt in lirik-teater, "Forward", N. Y., 16 January 1920.

  • Uriel Mazik [Alter Epstein] -- "Dos shtief-kind fun der velt" in lirik-teater, "Tog", N. Y., 16 January 1920.

  • Uriel Mazik -- "Fartriben fun gn-edn" in lirik-teater, "Tog", N. Y., 14 January 1921.

  • Ab. Cahan -- "Der rebe hot geheysen grelikh zeyn", "Forward", N. Y., 11 January 1922.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- In di brukliner yidishe teaters, "Tog", N. Y., 14 September 1923.

  • Ezrial Fleyshman -- In brukliner teaters, "Tog", N. Y., 22 February 1924.

  • Boris Lerner -- Shpanende melodrame in lirik-teater, "Tog", N. Y., 10 October 1924.

  • Kh. Ehrenreich -- Ver farfast di lidlakh far der idisher bine?, "Forward", N. Y., 2 October 1925.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- Lenoks, mekinly sqver un lirik, "Forward", N. Y., 30 October 1925.

  • Big Ben [B. Finkel] -- "Joe kessler shpilt abisl 'hamlet' in liliens a piese, "Di naye varhayt", N. Y., 7 October 1925.

  • Israel the Yankee [Fridman] -- "Vu iz mayn vayb?", "Yidishes tageblat", N. Y., 29 October 1926.

  • Y. K-m [Kirschenbaum] -- "Vu iz mayn vayb?", "Morning Journal", N. Y., 12 November 1926.

  • Dr. Kritikus [Kirschenbaum] -- In der vedlt fun literatur, "Der amerikaner", N. Y., 4 February 1927.

  • L. Flamstein -- "Khlumus fun libe" in lirik teater, "Tog", N. Y., 11 February 1927.

  • David Eydelsberg - "Khlumus fun libe", "Yidishes tagebat", N. Y., 13 February 1927.

  • H. R. [Rogoff] -- "Dos lid fun yugend", an opereta in lenoks teater, "Forward", N. Y., 25 February 1927.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- "Ikh hob dikh lib", "Morning Journal", N. Y., 21 October 1927.

  • L. Fogelman -- "Ikh hob dikh lib" -- a naye operete in lirik teater, "Forward", N. Y., 21 October 1927.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- In liberty teater un in lirik teater, "Forward", N. Y., 2 December 1927.

  • David Abrams -- A lebedike operetke in lirik-teater, "Frayhayt", N. Y., 30 December 1927.

  • L. Fogelman -- A naye piese in lirik teater, "Forward", N. Y., 6 June 1928.

  • Sh. Pan [Shayak] -- "Palestiner libe" fun izidor lilien, "Di post", London, 13 April 1928

  • Kritikus [Morris Meyer] -- "Palestiner libe" fun lilien, "Tsayt", London, 13 April 1928.

  • Tsingentang [Y. Botoshansky] -- "Mitn rbins kukh", "Di prese", Buenos Aires, 17 January 1928.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- "Mitn rbins kh" fun lilien, "Id. tsayt", Buenos Aires, 18 June 1928.

  • L. Fogelman -- "A malka on a melekh", -- di naye operete in lirik teter, "Forward", N. Y., 19 October 1928.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- "A malka on a melekh", "Morning  Journal", N. Y., 19 October 1928.

  • L. Fogelman -- "Lebedige skhurh" -- a naye piese in lirik teater, "Forward", N. Y., 23 November 1928.

  • L. Fogelman -- Di naye operete in lirik teater, "Forward", N. Y., 22 February 1929.

  • L. Flamstein -- Lilien's ge'gnbe'te libe in hopkinson teater, "Tog", N. Y., 9 October 1931.

  • Khayim Ehreinreich -- Riziker oylem fakt on sekond evenyu teater, "Forward", N. Y., 31 August 1932.

  • Sh. Zamd -- Naye operete "dos meydel vos ikh hob lib", in londeyl, "Forward", Chicago, 28 October 1932.

  • L. Fogelman -- Tsvey naye piesen in lirik un in hopkinson teater, "Forward", N. Y., 11 November 1932.

  • N. B. Linder -- "Dem leydik-geher's klh" in lirik teater, "Der tog", N. Y., 11 November 1932.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1079.
 

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