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  ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  LEON KALISH


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City

 

 

Leon (Leyb) Kalish
 

Born on 1 January 1882 in Lemberg, Galicia. His parents were merchants. He learned in a civil (birger) school. In 1898 he joined the chorus of Lemberg's Yiddish theatre, but already twelve weeks later he took over as a role player in Chone Wolfstal's troupe. Here he played for four years, and then he returned to Lemberg's Yiddish theatre as a lover-singer.

In 1903 K. began his military service, and after returning home he got married to a chorus girl, whom also later became an actress. K. then became engaged for London to Sigmund Feinman in a theatre, and toured from there with a troupe, playing Yiddish theatre in Buenos Aires. After playing there for a year's time he returned to Lemberg, where he remained regularly to play in the local Yiddish theatre, in which he also stage directed certain plays.

The actor Willie Goldstein in his memoirs recalls that on one evening in the year 1917, he attended a production in Gimpel's theatre in Lemberg, during which we had to play Latayner's "Far fir hundert yor (For Four Hundred Years),' in which 'the prince' had to be played by Kalish, the 'darling of the Lemberg Jewish public.' but it was late and the production hadn't yet begun because they were waiting for a military commission from the governor's home. The reason?

"The director Gimpel made a request in the Austrian war ministry that the first singing actor Leib Kalish, who should soon align




 

(recruited] with military service, unquestionably necessary for the Yiddish theatre, and he therefore asks for his release, so as not to close the theatre. Finally, the committee came and knew what it was all about, the public continuously acclaimed Kalish; at the open curtain, in the middle of the scenes, and in the middle of his fine singing, the audience exuded the joy and continuously called out: 'Encore! Kalish, our Kalish! Bravo! Encore!.' I do not even believe whether the officers with the General Behm at the head have much understanding of the performance, but they are seated until the end, and when the curtain falls, the audience countless times called out for their darling Kalish, and the ovation for Kalish accompanied the officers until they were on the street. It was only over several days, Leyb Kalish came to a cafe and showed a paper with a large Austrian eagle, and on the paper it said that Leyb Kalish, the famous Yiddish actor and singer, 'is considered indispensable' for the Yiddish theatre, and he became freed from military service until further notice."

Jonas Turkow also details in his book "Extinguished Stars," a play that K., who was known as a great joke teller, has departed as its director Emil Gimpel. Turkow also noted that K. used to, at the same time with his acting on the stage, handled various things.

Zygmunt Turkow explains that during his acting in Lemberg's Yiddish theatre with Gimpel, he had there: 'recognized an entire range, new for me, actors, professionals, ....

K.'s son Henry, who lived in new Y9ork and also had played in Lemberg and in other cities, explained that when the Soviets in 1939 occupied Lemberg, his father was found shortly after an operation naked. He had until that time not played any theatre. But he used to perform in various undertakings where he used to sing....The information was taken in the Russian army and from then on he lost every track of his family. He alone became wounded, and he was in bed for thirteen months in ah hospital in Saratov. In December 1944 he had the opportunity again to be for a short time in Lemberg, and here he realized that the Germans had dragged with violence his entire family, and she was killed, and his father died in the Lemberg ghetto.


Sh.E. from Emanuel Resser, and Sh.E. from his son Henry Kalish.

  • Willie Goldstein -- Yidishe aktyorn in galitsie, "Pinkus galitsye," Buenos Aires, 1945, pp. 312-313.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. 1, pp. 242-47.

  • Zygmunt Turkow -- "Di ibergerisene tkufeh," Buenos Aires, 1961, p. 131.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3859.
 

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