Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Samuel Rosenstein
(translation in progress...)


Born on 5 January 1879 [1876?] in Iasi, Romania. His father worked in the municipal bathhouse, hung (glued) posters for Yiddish theatre and was an usher in a Romanian theatre. He learned in a cheder, folkshul and attended a middle school. From his early youth, he sang in the Neyshats synagogue, and due to his father's friendships, he was virtually raised in a theatrical atmosphere. Together with his friend Yosele Sherman, he left home and began his youthful wanderings across the province as a song singer, singing songs from the Yiddish and Romanian theatre. After wandering across cities and villages in which they sang in bars and coffee houses, both of them returned home, but on the way they met with theatre director Segalesko, and he took them into the chorus of his Yiddish troupe.

When Abraham Goldfaden visited the Segalesko troupe, he encouraged R. to become an actor, and immediately after he debuted as "Herman" in Goldfaden's "The Time of the Messiah," R. remained in Segalesko's troupe as an actor. Two years later R. went over to Avraham Akselrod's troupe, where he acted in lover roles. From there R. went over to Kalmen Juvelier's troupe, with whom he arrived in American in 1900.

Zalmen Zylbercweig writes about this:
"Rosenstein then was young, elegant, and handsome, with a beautiful tenor voice, and with stage abilities. It is therefore understandable that he soon was recognized as a "young lover," 


and when two years later he went over to the People's Theatre to Boris Thomashefsky, Thomashefsky also had him perform in lover roles, and he often performed in the roles that he, Thomashefsky, had performed in. It was not long before R. , now already Samuel, not Shmuel, became the "matinee idol" ("Der nokhmitog-libling"). ... Rosenstein became the darling of the "beautiful sex", [and] he did not exploit this. It is no exaggeration to say that Rosenstein, along with his father, had not conformed to the accepted principle of the free life of the actor. He didn't even smoke, didn't drink and didn't perform in kartn, and he would not direct many houses, and not make an attempt as a manager. He would not fall into the difficult economic conditions like the last".

From Thomashefsky, R. went over to Adler's "Grand Theatre", where he received more act in dramas, and here he created two individual, strong types in Gordin's "Without a Home" ("Morry"), and "Golus galitsye" ("Der prush"). From Adler R. returned back to Thomashefsky, where he acted for seven or eight seasons and performed in the main roles of Thomashefsky's "The Jewish Crown." From 1912-13 R., together with Louie Goldberg, Rosa Karp and Leon Blank, took over the "Lenox" Theatre in the Bronx, but the theatre existed for only a short time, leaving over a great sum [debt.] R. returned to rejoin Thomashefsky-Louie Goldberg at the "National Theatre", where he acted for three seasons and made a strong impression in Rumshinsky's offering of "The Broken Violin." Later R. acted for two seasons in the "People's" Theatre for Edelstein, then a season in the "National" Theatre, where he again was with Edelstein in the "Second Avenue" Theatre, again had a huge success in the Bader-Rumshinsky operetta "The Rabbi's Melody," for which R. also wrote the "lyrics," and he then returned back to the "National" Theatre.

Alter Epstein, under the pseudonym of "Uriel Mazik," characterized him as such (in 1917):

"Rosenstein is without doubt one of the blessed people on our stage. He is handsome; his figure is beautiful. His figure reminds us of a Greek god. His voice is good. It is pleasant to hear. They really loved him, his life, but with playing good theatre, he had nothing to do (awk.) ... He is not a god-blessed actor. ... Rosenstein is a beloved artisan on our stage. Besides this, if you will not give any account, you will think that for you here stands a good actor, but when one thinks about the role in which he performs, how he acts in it, then it is fulfilled, that

(more to translate, last paragraph, p. 2483).

1925-26 -- R. attempted again (together with Rosa Karp) to become the managers of the "Lenox" Theatre, carrying on but barely for a season, and then went to Philadelphia, where he acted for two months with Mike Thomashefsky and completed the season with Anshel Schorr in the "Liberty" Theatre.

1927-8 -- R. acted in the "Public" Theatre with Louie Goldberg.

1928-9 -- R. was in Chicago with Glickman. Here R. became ill and had to cut short his acting.

1929-1930 -- He acted in Gabel's "Public" Theatre. However, he was ill very often and, in the end, had to cut short his acting and go away to California.

About the period, Zalmen Zylbercweig writes:

"And here there began the tragedy of the actor; in life - a sick person, a broken man, pale and weak, behind the curtain -- dangerously sick, often... more to translate....middle pg. 2484."

And Jacob Kirschenbaum portrayed him as such:

"Even though the deceased was over fifty years old, he..." more to translate...

R.'s brothers -- Avraham and Lazer -- were Yiddish folksingers and actors. R.'s sister -- Rosa Ziegler -- was a Yiddish actress, and the entire Ziegler family -- Yiddish actors.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 150.

  • Uriel Mazik -- Bilder-galerye fun unzere idishe shoyshpiler, "Tog", N. Y., 17 February 1917.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- Semuel rozenshtayn, "Amerikaner", N. Y., 12 February 1926.

  • Necrology in the New York Press.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- Der farshtorbener semuel rozenshtayn -- zayn karere oyf der idisher bihne, "Forward", N. Y., 3 February 1930 [reprinted hi his book "Theatre Figures", Buenos Aires, 1936, pp. 93-101].

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- A trehr oyf dem frishen kvr fun shoyshpiler semuel rozenshtayn, "Moz" "sh", N. Y., 3 February 1930.

  • Joseph Rumshinsky -- Semuel rozenshtayn -- der libhober zinger fun idishen teater, "Forward", N. Y., 7 February 1930.

  • [--] -- Di letste teg fun farshtorbenem shoyshpiler semuel rozenshtayn, dort, 7 February 1930.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Album of the Yiddish Theatre", N. Y., 1937, pp. 20, 87.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 2482.

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