T. then became a partner in the
Thalia Theatre with Kessler, Gordin, Lipzin and
Moskowitz. Later, he acted with Lipzin. In 1905-6, he
acted on the English stage (as "The Peddler" in the "Gelt-borger"),
but soon returned to the Yiddish stage.
According to information
from his son, he also had guest-starred in London,
Galicia and Poland.
T. especially excelled in
the creation of "Leizer, the wedding bard (badkhan)"
in Gordin's "God, Man and Devil," and "Nachumtshe" in
Gordin's "Mirele efros," as the "Peddler" in Kobrin's "The
Lost Paradise," and in the plays "Two Worlds," "On
the Mountain," and "The Orphan."
T. had for a long time
written stories for the "Herald" and "Forward," where
he also published several translations of Mark Twain. He
also dramatized Balzac's "The Game of Speculation" and
translated Joseph Jefferson's manuscript "Rip Van
Winkle," or "The Demons of the Catskills Mountains" by
Washington Irving (staged on 4 November 1906), in which
he acted in the role of "Rip," and he left in manuscript
a one-acter "Father and Son," and a historic operetta
in five acts and ten scenes, "Don yitskhok abarbanel."
Laid up with diabetes, T.
passed away on 5 October 1911 in New York and was
brought to his burial plot at Mount Zion Cemetery, Radom
section [listed as "Samuel Thornburg" in Mt. Zion
Cemetery database; "Samuel Thornberg" on death
certificate -- ed.]
T. had left three children
who were connected with the English theatre: David Torn
-- a dramatist, August Torn -- a stage director and
actor, and Lulu Torn -- an actress.
Ab. Cahan characterized him
as such: "He was a slightly dry, intelligent person, as
are most Yiddish actors, and his intelligence was not
only in his head, but also in his heart. He had ideal
aspirations, a higher "ambition" as an artist. He
genart put together interesting character portraits.
He had a genuine love for art. In his art he can use
more of his brain as with fantastical vigor. His
acting was, however, permeated with a seriousness..."
Joel Entin characterizes him
in this manner: "He had a scratchy voice, which grated
upon the ears and which led him to becoming somewhat
hysterical. This always caused tears of Jewish laughter.
The screech of pain that steals itself into the mournful
prayer (Avinu Malkeinu is a sad prayer of supplication
on the High Holidays) became, 'My heart is so funny'
...He didn't have a musical voice as compared to the
other Yiddish actors, but when he sang, 'Oh, woe,
poverty,' it was the song of poverty. Such a forlorn
satirical song about troubles could not have been better
performed if it had been sung with a more lyrical voice
and a more musical ear. He spoke clearly and succinctly.
When he interpreted Hebrew he did so with the correct
meaning right into the ear of the listener. He was
always a very warm person, and also very passionate. It
had a Chasidic fire that he brought into the roles he
played, with life and limb. He played them fresh and
with fire with every movement of his body. He possessed
a strong, poetic interior strength, and when he played
an interesting personality, he would inculcate the
characters inner being and his 'who.' He....He had a
pair of big, sharp, shining, always wandering, piercing,
which could add to his portrayals and give them an
unusual sharpness, a great life experience. If he needed
to portray a crafty suspicious person full of intrigues,
his eyes came powerfully to his aid. His intelligence
and his own fashion adapted itself to Gordin's humor.
And so he was forced to grow together with Gordin,
together with him a new humor to create [on the stage],
to bring on a new genre of actor on the Yiddish stage,
the character-comic. And so together with Gordin, he
went for 'Devorah'le meyukheses' until 'Dementia
Americana.' He always went on and always a new human
being to create."
Moyshe Nadir writes: "The
most interesting artist of that group (Adler, Kessler,
Thomashefsky, Moskowitz, Feinberg [Feinman], Katzman,
Mogulesko] was Tornberg. The same had a fine
understanding of the theatre, an innate tact. He used to
perform as sharply as the others, and his character used
to manifest as an old cooper shtikhn."
Leon Kobrin in his "Memories
of a Yiddish Dramaturg," characterizes S.'s acting as
such: "He was a comic and his comical aspect was at all
times a clean one, an honest person, an unmanageable
one. He never denied his talent, as far as I remember,
with buff comical aspects. There was an honest laughter,
never manufactured for the coarse laugh apparatus
of the large audiences. His comical aspect was an
entirely unique person -- a calm person, and I want to
say a philosopher, although happy like a pauper. He
didn't have with his voice, when he should have thought
about it, that arising out of those instruments is not
from that. However he always smiled cleverly and
quietly, exactly as his entire appearance had made the
impression of calmness and intelligence, and exactly as
his figure and his feet weren't for dancing, so also was
Sh. E. from
David Torn and M. E. from Moshe Zilberstein.
B. Gorin --
"History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, pp. 102,
-- Vi azoy ikh bin gevorn an aktor -- "Di
theater velt," N. Y., 4, 1909, (reprinted in
"Theater-zikhrones," Editor Z. Zylbercweig,
Vilna, 1928, pp. 73-85.
A. K. [Ab. Cahan]
-- In der yidisher teater velt, "Forward," N.
Y., 7 Oct. 1911.
J. Entin --
Shmuel tornberg, "Di varhayt," N. Y., 6 October
Moyshe Nadir -- Mayn bakantshaft mitn amerikanishn idishn teater
["teater-bukh," Kiev, 1927, p. 147].
Leon Kobrin -- "Erinerungen
fun a yidishn dramturg," N. Y., II, pp. 187-191.