Harry Jordan with
wife Mary (left), her sister Ida Honig (right), also
an actress who lived and performed in New York.
Here they are taking a break during a performance at
the Littman's People's Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.
mid to late 1930s
Jordan (nee Hoffman) was also in the theatre. Here
are some of Mary's recollections:
Glassman had rushed over to Mary's mother's house on
Blaine one day to say that they needed chorus girls
at the Yiddish theatre. Mary and her sister Ida
went, and their father Sam (Solomon) Hoffman had a
fit. It was 1932 and Mary was right out of high
school. They got $1.50 a performance!
The actor Michal Michalesko was gorgeous! People hung around to see
the actors after the show. Michal was a leading man, or the love
interest in a play. Celia Pearson was a "glamour girl." In one play she
was going to marry Michal. He was blamed for killing someone. She was
pregnant by him, but he was in jail. She was ready to marry another man,
but at the last minute Michal is freed from jail upon being found
innocent. She tells him, "We have a child." In Yiddish she means to tell
him that the child is in an orphanage, but she got the words mixed up
and mistakenly said, "He's in an old folks' home." There was a moment of
silence as the audience digested these words!
Aaron Lebedeff, who came from New York, another well-known actor and
entertainer, always had a carnation in lapel and his nails were always
manicured. He always played the lead role for an older gentleman.
Another man would play the "love interest." Lebedeff used to go to Mount
Clemens for the baths. He brought a butler who cared for him. He came
ailing and left feeling wonderful.
Mary reminisced how
when she and Harry were first married they lived on $7.50 a week. They
would entertain every Sunday. Actors from the Yiddish theatre or people
from Crawford Clothes where Harry worked, came for dinner. Harry was
thrilled to invite all the people for dinner. Mary made all the food
from scratch, e.g. borscht.
Around 1940 or so Harry and Mary entertained every night on next to
nothing. They bought cakes because you couldn't bake in the apartment's
unreliable oven. People used to come over all the time. They enjoyed the
most simple pastimes. The streetcar cost six cents and a transfer cost
a penny. Their apartment on Pingree was thirty-five dollars a month. The
actors from New York who came to call thought Harry and Mary were
millionaires because they had grass and trees.