Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Louis Birnbaum
(Yakov Leyb)


B. was born in July 1884 in Lodz, Poland. His parents were religious merchants. He learned in a cheder and in three classes in Konstat's school. He sang as a soprano and alto in the German synagogue, which made him want to be sent away to Italy to study, but his father didn't allow this.

At the age of twelve he saw Shliferstein's production of "Bar Kochba", that called out within him nationalistic feelings, and he took to reading Yiddish literature. Attending the circus, becoming interested with dance, he was introduced to a group of dancers, who also performed in theatre, and he traveled with them to Zgerzh, where he acted as "Papus" in "Bar Kochba", later in other towns. Then he entered into the chorus with Kaminski-Rappel, and again he traveled with "amateurs" across the small towns.

Due to military service he fled to America, and after a short time he entered into the Golden Rule Vaudeville House. Five months later he went over to the Peoples' Music Hall, and after marrying Minnie Pilpel he became manager of the vaudeville productions in the Orlieniev Theatre, later for Kaminski's guest-role appearances. Several attempts at acting with Kessler and with Young fell through because of interference from the union. B. acted then again for a season in vaudeville and became engaged to Thomashefsky in the People's Theatre, where he acted for three years.


In 1910-2 B. acted together with Schildkraut, 1913-5 in Philadelphia, 1916-8 in the People's Theatre with Adler, then in the Second Avenue (Theatre) with Kessler, Moshkovitsh, Lipzin, Kalich (one season), and one season with Adler, two seasons in the Peoples' Theatre with Max Rosenthal and Bessie Thomashefsky, one season in Philadelphia, two years as assistant manager at the Irving Place Theatre, and he acted there with Satz, Goldenburg and Muni Weisenfreund, guest-starring for a year across the province, a year acting in Detroit with Littman, 1928-9 in the Rolland Theatre, and 1929-30 guest-starring across the province.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of the Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 179.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- Kunst un kinstler, "Di idishe velt", Cleveland, 11 July 1915.

  • [ ] -- A neyer shtern mit a romantisher fergangeheyt, "Di varheyt", 25 February 19111.

  • Alter Epstein -- Interesante momenten fun aktyoren leben, "Tog", N. Y., 14 July 1918.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 167.

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