Paul Muni





Paul Muni (1895-1967) was born in what is today Lviv, Ukraine. His birth name was Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund, though he used the name Muni Weisenfreund while acting in the Yiddish theatre.

While most of us know Muni as a wonderful film actor -- from the major 19th century French novelist and playwright Émile Zola to a wrongly accused escapee from a chain gang -- Muni first got his start in the Yiddish theatre, where both his parents were actors.

At a very young age his acting talent was recognized by Yiddish great Maurice Schwartz who signed him to be part of his acting troupe, the Yiddish Art Theatre.

Muni began to act on Broadway in 1926, and in 1929 was signed by Fox to star in motion pictures. His first film was called "The Valiant"; for his work in this film he received an Oscar nomination. However, he then decided to return to the Broadway, but then once again returned to Hollywood in 1932 where he would become a major motion picture star.

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Text  adapted from Wikipedia.
Photograph courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

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