At the end of the eightieth
year of the twentieth century(?), M. arrived in America
and acted for four seasons in the German Irving Place
Theatre in New York. Boris Thomashefsky, who then was
acting in Philadelphia, noticing in the press releases
that M. was a Jew, endeavored to be introduced to him
and to take him away from New York, but he wasn't
successful. In 1891, according to Thomashefsky, when he
had acted in Phladelphia, M. came to him behind the
curtains. "An entirely ordinary, poor tramp with torn
clothing, brodiage, a vagabond, sorrowful, lame,
twisted, farmers' boots of the cheap sort. His pants
were torn, were a little too short, from the shoes he
looked like an old man. His coat was torn. Through his
sleeves could be seen his naked hand and a plain
farmer's shirt of the cheap short. The buttons were torn
off, but there appeared to be expensive silk underwear.
His face was burnt by the sun, like a true farmer with a
large, blackened face, and a fine tsekampter
According to Thomashefsky,
M. declared to him that the Christian stage performers
had driven him from New York. The stage director has
said to him during a rehearsal: "Herr Morrison, the Jews
speak." M. left the theatre and no longer send for him,
and in several days he read that he was rejected from
the German theatre because the German attendees wanted
to have a German, not any Yiddish theatre. He was too
ashamed to return, and he returned back from Europe. And
out of shame he cashed in [his] acting card and drank
[?] And without any means of earning money he went away
to Chicago. Here he had, through an ad in the newspaper,
zikh fardungen not far from the city, in a form
as a day worker for twelve dollars a month, which he
however did not receive payment.
M. spent three months with
Thomashefsky. Within this time he made up the actors,
and they helped them dress. Many times he helped the
stage workers put together the scenery, and sometimes he
even swept the stage.
Once when M. had complained
to Thomashefsky that it is very boring. Thomashefsky
made a proposal to him that he should begin to act for
him in Yiddish. However -- as Thomashefsky tells it ---
"Morrison became pale, his hands and feet were
trembling, his eyes had shed tears. He made with the
lips like it was torture for him to speak. All of a
sudden he was exhausted and went off to the kitchen
[cook], and we soon hard a horrible roar like a wounded
bear. He was hit in the heart and cried: "I am a Yiddish
actor! I, Moritz Morison! Who should I play? "Dovid
Velvel" as the "Khlutsh," Papus or Tsingetan? Boris, you
have grieved me! Boris, you want my entire career to
break; Moritz Morrison a Yiddish actor! -- and he burst
Several days later M.
apologized, and he declared that he is ready to act in
Yiddish, but shortly thereafter he again withdrew
sufficiently[?] for its strange characters that were
presented in the Yiddish theatre. Through the initiative
of Thomashefsky, M. received the opportunity to perform
once in the German play, "The Two Partners," for theatre
director Halis in Chicago, and both the press and public
took to him warmly.
Soon after the production M.
-- according to Thomashefsky -- again disappeared, and
around 1903 happened again in New York at the Thalia
Theatre: "The beard was not no large as before, the
clothing no longer like a farmer, only a bit torn up,
tsekneytshte, the shoes worn out. It already was
cold and his clothes were summerlike, in a straw hat,
and under his arm he bore a small paper box..."
In the box there were M.'s
used wigs from "Othello," "Hamlet," "Kean" and
"Shylock," and he [then] asked to borrow ten dollars,
which he received on a pawn. Soon thereafter he went off
to a wine cellar, [and] two days later he again received
and stuttered that he wanted to act in Yiddish theatre
if.... more to translate....
[bottom, p. 1250]
On 12 December 1903 M.
performed in the People's Theatre as "Othello" ("Iago"
-- Boris Thomashefsky, "Desdemona" -- Malvina Lobel); on
1 January 1904 as "Hamlet" ("Ophelia" -- Malvina Lobel).
On 29 January 1904 as "Kean"; on 30 January 1904 as "Uriel
Acosta"; on 11 March 1904 at the Grand Theatre as
"Franz" in Schiller's "Der roybers (The Robbers)"
("Karl" -- Jacob P. Adler, "Amalia" -- Sara Adler), and
on 31 March 1905 in the Grand Theatre (together with
Sara Adler) in "Narciss and Madame De Pompadour" by
Soon thereafter M. again
went off to Europe where he guest-starred in various
cities. Thomashefsky writes as such about M.'s
production in Karlsbad: "He acted in 'Kean." I was....
more to translate....
So M. yearlong used to come
to America during the winter to guest-star on the
Yiddish stage, and at the beginning of the summer he
returned to Germany.
In 1910 M. guest-starred
with Malvina Lobel across the American province, and on
5 March 1911 he again was with Thomashefsky in the
People's Theatre in "The Robbers" again, traveled across
the province and acted in March-May 1912 in Kessler's
Second Avenue Theatre in his prior repertoire, and on 1
May 1912 as "King Richard III" by Shakespeare. In
October 191e he again acted in his repertoire in the
Lipzin Theatre, then for a long time in other New York
theatres, and across the province, but it did poor
On 23 January 1915 M.
performed in Thomashefsky's National Theatre in George
Ahnet's (sp) drama, "Libe un shtoltz (Love and Pride?) (transaltion
by Moshe Schorr), and acted often at the start of the
1915-6 season in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre.
On 23 January 1916 M. acted
in Yiddish in Henryk Ibsen's "Di gayster (The Ghost)"
for Maurice Schwartz's testimonial, and on 3 March 1916
he acted in Lateiner's "A korbon fun libe (A Victim of
Love?)." In November 1916 he again acted in his
repertoire in Bessie Thomashefsky's People's Theatre.
About M.'s last days in
Yiddish theatre, Boris Thomashefsky writes: "He became
sick from grief and had begun to use measures to sustain
himself.... when he became melancholy, and the bitter
sorrow and the elderly had deeply criticized him, the
legs were breaking and the bust had ..... Morrison
quickly caught the fleshl with piln, which
he had built....aruntershlungen one or two, and
ten minutes later Morrison had again been redeemed[?],
his eyes had acquired a brilliant fire. He had aroused
himself in his entire being, and again for several hours
became the former Morrison... On 5 June 1917 he acted in
his last production, "Othello," for me in the theatre. I
was then in Chicago, but they told us that it was a
terrible production. After the third act, Morrison
became broken... He fell, rolling one foot after the
other, but it did not help him. A well-known doctor
stuck him with needles and gave various measures. With
his last effort he ended the last act."
On 28 Agust 1917 M. passed
away in New York and according to his will -- was
brought to his gravesite next to Sigmund Mogulesko at
Washington Cemetery in New York [Brooklyn.]
Lead Pencil [B. Botwinik]
portrayed M.'s last years on the Yiddish stage: "The
last two to three years of his life he had the former
[stage-] king of Europe acting Dora Benefislech [?] in
the Yiddish theatres. The last time his friend from the
European princess ...
.more to translate....[third
paragraph, pg. 1252]
B. Gorin characterized M. as
an actor and his role on the Yiddish stage: "Moritz
Morrison was a well-known figure and not only in the
theatre circles, where he always.... more to
Ab. Cahan characterized him
this way: "He was a German actor, not a Yiddish one, and
as a German he acted for us. ... when Morrison wanted to
learn how to act in plain [simple[ Yiddish, he wanted
to.... more to translate....
Boris Thomashefsky writes
about M.'s career: "He struggled with the world arts,
he.... more to translate....
2nd paragraph, p. 1254
In the necrology in "Morning
Journal" there was remarked: "To the Jewish audience he
had strongly oysgenumen as "Kean" and was his
greatest call in Yiddish theatre... more to
more to translate....
Joel Entin writes: "...
more to translate....
Jacob Kalich recalls: "He
[M.] had.... more to translate.....
B. Gorin --
"History of Yiddish Theatre Vol. II, p. 169.
Y. Kritikus [Kirschenbaum]
-- Morison un malvina lobel, "Der kanader adler",
Montreal, 3 Maarch 1910.
Z. Kornblith --
"Shylock" un vi moris morison ferteytsht ihm "Di
yidishe bihne", N. Y., 8 April 1910.
M. D. [Dantsis]
-- Morits morison als "kenig lier", "Di yidishe
bihne", N. Y., 15 April 1910.
Kirschenbaum -- Kunst un kinstler, "Di yidishe
velt", Cleveland, 27 June 1915.
Thomashefsky -- "Mayn lebens geshikhte", N. Y.,
1916, pp. 166-170, 244, 260-61.
Ab. Cahan --
Morits morison's role oyf der yidisher bihne, "Forverts",
N. Y., 29 August 1917.
Y. Entin --
Morits morison, "Di varhayt", N. Y., 29 August
Jacob P. Adler --
A yidisher kinstler geshtorben, "Morning
Journal," N. Y., 29 August 1917.
Thomashefsky -- Thomashevsky beshreybt vi
azoy er hot zikh bekent mit morisonen, "Forverts,"
N. Y., 30 August 1917.
Y. Z. Shubin -- A
fershtoytener, "Der tog," N. Y., 30 August 1917.
Lead Pencil [B.
Botwinick] -- Morris morrison, "Forverts," N.
Y., 31 August 1917.
Thomashefsky -- Morrison hot amol gemuzt
ferlozen di bihne un veren a farmer, dort.
Thomashefsky -- Thomashefsky als morison's
menedzsher, "Forverts," N. Y., 1 September 1917.
Reuben Breinin --
Moris morison, "Yidishe togblat", N. Y., 4
Thomashefsky -- Vi azoy morison iz gevorn a
hushv oyf der yidisher bihne, "Forverts," N. Y.,
5 September 1917.
B. Gorin --
Morits morison, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 5
Jacob Kalich --
Moris morison, keniglikher shoyshpiler,
geshtorben a betler, "Der teater shtern," N. Y.,
1 Decemner 1926.