Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre



Laura Gliksman

G. was born on 5 February 1885 in Lemberg, Galicia. Her father was a military contractor of boots.

According to Jonas Turkow, the following portrait about her biography and artistic career:

"Her father, who was a great lover of Yiddish theatre, loved Lorke -- which also is what they called her in her later years -- often took up with Gimpel's Yiddish theatre. She was as charmed by the new -- for her -- world, and began to dream of becoming a Yiddish actress. She had a beautiful voice for singing. Her father, as a military contractor for the Austrian army, often invited to their home various military and civilian guests. The small, little-loved Laura used to sing songs for them that were heard in Yiddish theatre. All were torn about her, not only for her singing, but even more for the way she performed and played the song. From all sides they asked Lorke's father to leave her pictures for an actress, and she will still sing in the Vienna Kaiser and Royal Opera, and that she will will be such and such ... Lorke's father, who by herself had love for Yiddish theatre, and a Yiddish song, but he would not listen to it. His Lorke -- he said -- must grow into a man...

When the director of Yiddish theatre in Lemberg, Gimpel, Having already learned about her singing, he sent for her and promised her "golden happiness" if she would come to the theatre for him. It was agreed that Lorke's father would not know about it, because


darkness would come ... Lorke began to sing for Gimpel in the chorus, and her father knew nothing from the start. Everything was going well. When the "discoverer" of new talent, by himself an excellent actor and theatre director in Galicia, Karl Ebell saw and heard Lorke, he soon determined that the young girl with time will be a not-average stage power. He had her taken into his troupe. In a short time Lorke Gliksman reached the first position in the troupe and played every main role (as "Khasye" in "A mentsh zol men zayn (Be a Man!)."

G. played for two seasons with Ebell, and from Ebell Laura Gliksman was engaged for Akselrod in Czernowitz. She quickly became very popular and remained so with the public. the theatre director Bernard Hart made her a partner in directing, so that she became a theatre director, and together with Hart directed their own troupe for six years.

In 1914 she was engaged to Sholem Podzamce for Vienna, where she soon was the darling of the public. With the founding of the "Free Yiddish Folks-bine,' Laura Gliksman was engaged for this theatre, and there it was a respectable place."

In the 1922-23 season G. participated in the troupe of Ashkenazi, with the guest-starring Molly Picon and Jacob Kalich, with whom she also played in Warsaw, and in Romania and drew the attention of the critics as a splendid actress. Then G. played for two seasons with N. Blumental in Paris, three seasons with breaks, in London with Joseph Kessler, and again in Vienna in the Podzamce troupe. G. also played in Kovno with Dr. Paul Baratov, and in London with Simkha Postel, and everywhere had the greatest success.

G. participated in several Yiddish films, e.g. in "Yidl mitn fidl" with Molly Picon.

Jonas Turkow in his book, "Extinguished Stars," characterizes her this way:

"Although Laura Gliksman had earlier played in operetta repertoire as the soubrette -- alas, she was one of the best Yiddish soubrettes in Europe -- she also had in serious repertoire shown that she is a well-blessed talent. As she, however, as it turned out on the stage, everything was filled with life. A roaring temper that literally ignited everything around her.

Laura Gliksman was blessed with extraordinary virtues. She had a beautiful face; a dark head of hair, a pair of large gray-blue eyes, which locked and attracted you to them. She possessed much grace. Although she was a simple woman, by and by, a good woman and had no education, but was a proper resident, she was quite supportive of this woman's stage culture.

In the last years before the Second World War she already played character roles. She brought out deeply human, tragic tenor when it was needed, where she scoffed at their naturalness and immediacy, not only entertaining the public, but also their colleagues on stage. In Toller's 'Hinkemann' ('Dos roite gelekhter') Laura Glicksman played the mother, and she in the small role she created was with true creation."

Zalmen Zylbercweig, who saw her act, remarks:

"It is rare tha any Yiddish actress, such as Lorke Gliksman, not having any theatre school [training], has again and again at times confirmed the fact that the Yiddish theatre has been able to develop and deliver such an excellent actress, who has endured so many distinctive, contradictory, types and characters in the sea of Yiddish original and translated verses, but thanks to the fact that they were naturally gifted with an artistic talent and grace. In life alone an entirely simple woman, although she appeared very elegant. On stage she blushed with a stage intelligence, which was rare to find among dozens of Jewish, more learned actors. In life free of language, sometimes very trivial and vulgar, but who had with her the "seventh grace," the stage was very preserved with the text and the directions of regisseur. All this along with her more than average talent, making her unforgettable to those who saw her playing."

Jonas Turkow gives the following portrait about her tragic end:

"When the last (World War II) war broke out, and the Nazis took power in Vienna, she ran away from there to Belgium. Her luck did not hold out for her there too. The Nazis followed her... Belgium was occupied by the murderers and Laura Glicksman shared the fate of the majority of the Jews in Belgium who were deported by the Nazis. She was taken away to one of the German death-camps."

Sh.E. from Zalmen Zylbercweig.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," New York, 1931, Vol. 1, p. 490.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. II, pp. 137-41.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3831.
You can read Laura's initial Lexicon biography in Vol. 1 by clicking here.

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