Born on 21 July 1889 in
Lemberg, Galicia. His father was a clothing merchant and
a manager of a tailor's workshop. He learned in a
cheder, and in a school. He sang in temple, and in the
children's chorus of a Yiddish theatre. Underdeveloped,
V. began to play comic roles with amateurs, but his
parents were dissatisfied with it and entered him into a
hat business, only V. continued with playing with
acting. In 1911 he fled to Kolomea in Norbert Glimer's
troupe, where he debuted as "Motele" in Gordin's "God,
Man and Devil." After playing for a year in a chorus
with Hart in Stanislawow, playing roles at the same
In 1913 V. was with a
member's group, which was under the direction of
Palepade. During the First World War he put together a
troupe of "amateurs" in Krakow, was taken into the army,
and as a prisoner-of-war he played Yiddish theatre in a
prison camp by Austria.
About this Alter Eisenshlos,
also a prisoner-of-war in Mehrn writes:
"We immediately sent a
request to the officer-in-chief and asked the
petitioners for a permit [to play theatre], stating that
from day to night melancholy and despairing, it would
certainly make sense that in order to avoid such danger,
a license for theatre performances is very much needed.
It did not take long. A reply came back, that although
the time is not very apt to play the theatre, it is
still granted permission for Yiddish theatre
performances. There must, however, be unconditional
copies of the plays to be performed.
As soon as the repentance
arrived, they became true 'Jews.' Immediately they were
professional artists, a comedian, a certain Waldberg and
his wife, who later moved to the Yiddish stage' in
Vienna. ... (But there were no plays.) The entire joy
was not destroyed because of it. The severe revision
saved the bad situation that H. Valdberg made for
himself in Coyber, and there found out the old role of
'Diego Francisco' from the operetta 'Kol Nidre.' It was
therefore decided to make an evening of singing and
declamations, and this Valdberg couple should perform
all the scenes of Diego Francisco. ... Under the
instructions of Mssrs. Zilber and Valdberg, in several
days it was performed on a stage with all his knack."
From 1915-20 he acted with
Podzamce in Vienna, later for a short time in Romania. From 1922-23, he worked in
cafe houses, until he went back in 1924 into the Vienna
Yiddish theatre. Then he began to wander with the
itinerant troupes across Czechoslovakia. About this
account, Sh.Y. Harendorf in his book "Theatre Caravans"
recalls, that the troupe, which played under the
direction of Abish Meisels in Marienbad, where there
also was situated the Belz rabbi, it was decided to
visit the rabbi and ask him for a blessing:
"The first of the actors who
reached the rabbi was a member of our troupe, Valdberg
he was called. He was small and lean, like a small
stick, and the actors called him "Kokele" (May he
forgive me, this Yiddish actor, when I want to make him
a bad advertisement in that world, that he was a weak
comedian.) When he handed the rabbi his little hand
there, the rabbi asked him what his livelihood was.
When he gave the Rebbe his small, thin hand the
rabbi asked him what’s your livelihood?
-- An actor -- answered Valdberg.
-- What kind of profession is that? -- the Rebbe wanted
-- I’m an art maker -- Valdberg wanted him to
understand in his Lemberger dialect.
-- What kind of art? (We shouldn’t know from it).
Can you show it? -- The Rebbe became curious.
The Rebbe’s gabbai (administrator) mixed in and
tried to explain to the Rebbe, saying:
-- Rebbe he is a Purimshpiler, one of the colony
of clowns … a wanderer … They’re putting on a Purim play
-- So! You are a Purim player -- wondered the
Rebbe -- And from this you’re able to make ends meet
throughout the year?
-- No, Rebbe -- Valdberg was trembling with fear -- I’m
not a Purim player …
-- Rebbe -- butts in the gabbai -- he’s a badkhan (a
-- So? The Belzer Rebbe started to understand the matter
-- You’re a badkhan, and you make the people happy
During the entire time of this chat the Belzer Rebbe did
not lift up his eyes, but when Valdberg told him that he
is an art maker, he lifted his head and looked deeply at
him. The Rebbe understood that Valdberg’s story about
art is somehow not an every day thing.
-- That’s no business for a Jew. -- God should send you
a complete recovery for your soul.
In the last years V. went
from Vienna back to Lemberg. During the Second World War
he had, together with the Lemberg Jewish State Theatre,
evacuated to the Soviet Union, and during the typhus
epidemic in Bukhara he passed away.
"Lexicon of Yiddish
Theatre," New York, 1931, Vol. 1, pl. 646.
A. Eyzenshlos --
Yidish teater in di estreykhishe barakn-lagers (in
Zalmen Zylbercweig's "Theatre Memories"), Vilna,
1928, pp. 11-20.
Sh.Y. Harendorf --
"Theatre Caravans," London, 1955, pp. 145-147.