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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"

 

Esta Salzman


 

Born on 24 February 1914 in Boston, Massachusetts, as Esther Saltzman. Her parents were Jacob Saltzman and Zelda Cohen nee Krikun. Her father and brothers Michel, Benjamin (Berl), Max and Charles all worked at some point in the Yiddish theatre, e.g. in scenic design, or as a stage technician or electrician.

As to her training for the theatre, like many actors, she had no formal training and was mostly self-taught. According to Caraid O'Brien's article about S., she started playing in children's roles when she was six years old, when her father volunteered her for a show at Brooklyn's Liberty Theatre that starred Frances Adler and Joseph Shoengold. She improved her singing and dancing skills by working with a chorus.

In 1936 S. married fellow actor Dave Lubritsky, part of an acting family that included sisters Fannie and Goldie.

S. acted in hundreds of plays in her illustrious career. A few of the plays she performed in were:

In October 1937 she acted in the musical, "Give Me Back My Heart" at New York's Downtown National Theatre.

In 1941, she acted at the New Brighton Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, in the play "The Town Lunatic," as well as in "Shmendrik on Broadway," both musical comedies by William Siegel.

S. also acted in other towns and cities within the United States during her career. In June 1943, for instance, S. acted with Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre company at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, Illinois, in Sholem Asch's play "Kiddush Hashem," a historical drama in 2 acts and 14 scenes.

During the 1946-7 season she performed in the Douglas Park Theatre in Chicago in "The First Love (Di erste libe)," an operetta in 2 acts, by Harry Hoffenberg, music by Samuel Solomon, lyrics and production by Oscar Ostroff, staged by Isaac Arco, dances by Dave Lubritsky. In October 1946 S. starred at the same theatre with Michael Michalesko and Jennie Goldstein in the musical comedy "Life is Beautiful."

According to the review of this play by Chicago Sunday Times critic Louis Zara: "One of the highlights has been the introduction of Esta Salzman, an astonishing bright talent, who played the young dramatic lead as the daughter who married out of the fold. Vivacious and capable, Miss Salzman carried her full and rich role to a highly satisfying triumph."

In 1949, she acted in New York's Clinton Theatre with Pesach Burstein and Lillian Lux in H. Hoffenberg's play, "Double Trouble." Theatre critic Jeanette Wilken of the Daily News remarked that "Esta Salzman is the perkiest thing I've seen onstage in some time." At the same theatre on 18 November 1949 she acted again with Burstein and Lux, as well as her husband Dave Lubritsky, Anna Appel and Leon Schachter in the Siegel and Wohl's musical comedy, "A Village Wedding." Also staged that season at the Clinton was Hoffenberg's musical, "Sing Israel" (staged 16 December 1949).

In September 1950 in the Second Avenue Theatre, S. starred with Molly Picon in "Mazel Tov Molly," an operetta in 2 acts and 9 scenes, by Harry Kalmanowitz (Director: Jacob Kalich; music by Joseph Rumshinsky -- his twenty-sixth operetta). She also acted in that year in the same theatre in "Second Marriage," a play in 2 acts and 7 scenes, written and directed by Louis Freiman and directed by the author.

In the same year (actually 1951 -- ed.), S. was granted a divorce from her husband Dave Lubritsky.

At the Second Avenue Theatre, she performed from about October 1951 until at least the end of 1953. In October 1951, she acted in Ellstein's "Don't Worry" (with Leo Fuchs, Irving Jacobson, Yetta Zwerling, Mae Schoenfeld, Muni Serebrov, Miriam Kressyn, Lucy Gehrman and Dave Lubritsky), and with the same cast in January 1952 in "Let's Be Gay." In the 1952-53 season, she performed in the play "Girl of my Dream." In the 1953-54 season, in October 1953 at the same theatre, S. acted with Edmund Zayenda, Irving Jacobson, Miriam Kressyn, Berta Gersten, Lucy Gehrman, Mae Schoenfeld, Muni Serebrov and Charles Cohan, in Louis Freiman's "Second Marriage" (music by Many Fleischman). There, in December 1953 the play, Freiman's "Sisters," was staged, also starring many from the same troupe.


 

On 26 March 1954, there was staged "My Grandfather's Melody" at the Downtown National Theatre in New York City, with S. and Henrietta Jacobson (co-starring Fraydele Oysher, Celia Budkin and Morris Tarlofsky).

For three nights, beginning on 14 May 1954 at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn, the Freiman comedy-drama, "Two Sisters," was presented by the Hebrew Actors Union, in its "campaign to create employment for its members." Acting along with the S., were Charlotte Goldstein, Max and Rose Bozyk, Muni Serebrov, Toby Stevens and Gustave Berger.

On 17 December 1954, Freiman's "Love is Blind" was staged at the Parkway Theatre. The personnel included S., Pincus Lawenda, Jacob Jacobs, Chana Grossberg, Rose Dickstein and Tillie Rabinowitz.

S. also acted in other towns and cities within the United States during her career. In June 1943, for instance, S. acted with Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre company at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, Illinois, in Sholem Asch's play "Kiddush Hashem," a historical drama in 2 acts and 14 scenes.

photo, left: Esta Salzman and Charlotte Goldstein in the film "Three Daughters" (1949).

S. also starred in a number of Yiddish films, such as "Love and Sacrifice" (as Alice Steinfeld, aka Alice Stone) (1936), as Celia in "I Want to Be a Mother" (1937), "The Jewish Melody" (1940), as Surele Polakoff in "Her Second Mother" (1940), "Mazel Tov Yidden" (1941), in "Three Daughters" (1949), and as Tsipe in Gordin's "God, Man and Devil" (1950).

SCENE FROM THE FILM "THE JEWISH MELODY" (1940)

Esta Salzman in wedding dress; Isidore Cashier blesses the bride and groom; Dave Lubritsky, far right.

According to Yiddish actress Charlotte Goldstein, in her autobiography, "Memories are Forever: A Memoir of a Life in Theatre and in Love," G. states about S. et al: "My closest friend in the world -- still today, as she was then -- is Esta Salzman. We met in the dressing room of a theatre in 1941. It was love at first sight and we have been 'going steady' ever since. She is my Forever friend. She was an actress at the time that we met, married to the actor Dave Lubritsky. They were both very talented, very successful. They worked together as a team on Second Avenue in the world of musical comedy, usually at the side of Menasha Skulnik or Molly Picon, singing and dancing their way into the hearts of audiences wherever they performed. When the theatre closed for the summer, they would join the staff of one of the hotels in the famous Borscht Belt in the Catskill Mountains where they would perform until the theatre on Second avenue reopened in the fall."

In June 2002, S. was honored by the "Yiddish Artists and Friends Actors Club," in recognition of her outstanding life-long creative contribution to the Yiddish theatre.

S. passed away 23 April 2008 in New York, New York, and was brought to her eternal rest in Knollwood Park Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens, New York.
 

Sh. E. from her son Jamie Lubin, Caraid O'Brien and Charlotte Goldstein.

  • Louis Zara -- "Yiddish music scores a triumph," Chicago Sunday Times, Chicago, Illinois, 13 October 1946.

  • Caraid O'Brien -- "Goodbye to 'Little Miss Sparkle," Forward, N. Y., 1 May 2008.

  • Charlotte Goldstein -- "Memories are Forever: A Memoir of a Life in Theatre and in Love," pp. 36-37, South Carolina, 2008.


 

 

 

 


 

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Part of the new,  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", Volume 8, by Steven Lasky.
Biographical information and photographs courtesy of Jamie Lubin.

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