Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Willy Pasternak
(translation incomplete)


Born on 11 April 1885 in Kortshin (Korczyna), near Rimanov (Rymanów), Galicia. His father was a spice merchant. He learned in a cheder, and for three years he attended a school.

Due to the very bad economic conditions that existed, P. migrated with his family to America when he was thirteen years of age, and soon he became a frequent visitor of the Yiddish theatre.

He made himself known to Joseph Edelstein, who was then the manager of the "People's Theatre," and he became for him a doorman [ticket-taker] for $1.50 a week, then an assistant to the house supervisor of the theatre, and then by himself was a supervisor, until he won the job of an assistant cashier, a cashier and unofficial manager of the theatre.

From the 1926-27 season until the 1929-30 season he was, together with Jacob Kalich, Joseph Rumshinsky, Max Sager and Nathan Parnes -- an owner and manager of "Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre". From 1930-31 he was with them in the "Folks Theatre" and since that season of 1931-31 (together with Nathan Parnes --and until 1936 also with Max Sager and William Rolland) -- manager of the "Public Theatre." From 1937-38 he was manager of the "Folks Theatre"; 1938-39 manager in the "Prospect Theatre," then business manager in the "National Theatre," cashier in the "Public Theatre," later manager in the "Folks Theatre" and cashier in the "National Theatre."


During his last years P. suffered from a heart illness and was brought to the hospital quite often, interrupting his work. For the 1941-42 season he was engaged as the business manager in the "Jolson Theatre," but he only appeared to enter. On 10 August 1942 he passed away from a heart attack and was brought to his gravesite at the cemetery of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance in New York.

P. was very popular in all circles, especially in the Yiddish theatre- and newspaper world. He also had helped many, various theatres with information about Yiddish theatre in New York.

Y. Kirschenbaum writes:

"Willy Pasternak... more to translate..."

And Elisha [B. Botwinik] characterized him as such:

" Willy was not any kind of an actor, not a playwright or director, not... more to translate..."

Sholem Perlmutter noted on quite a special page:

"Everyone had known that Willy... more to translate..."

M. E.  and M. E. from Nathan Parnes

  • [--] -- Di naye beli btim fun dem sekond evenyu theater, "Forward," N. Y., 30 October 1925.

  • Y. Kirschenbaum -- Pasternak in oysgevaksen un zikh oysgelebt mit dem teaer, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 12 August 1942.

  • Elisha -- Willy pasternak, "Forward," N. Y., 13 August 1942.

  • Sholem Perlmutter -- Tsum ondenk fun dem balibtn vili pasternak, "Der tog," N. Y., 9 September 1942.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 1643.

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