Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Ben Bonus


Born on 9 November 1920 in Horodenka, Eastern Galicia. His father was a baker, who then became a fruit merchant. He learned in cheders until the of age twelve in the TSISHO [ed.-- acronym of Central Yiddish School Organization - secular schools], where he also used to perform in children's productions, then he learned in the local Polish gymnasium. At the age of fourteen he participated with the young group of the Sholem Aleichem Dramatic Association under the direction of David Herman, in Dr. Tsipur's "Oyfshtand" (in the role of "Porits [noble man]"). He learned to sing with a private music teacher. He "wandered off" with a friend to Lemberg, where he tried to "crack his expenses" by singing in the courtyards, [then] began to tour with Shtshogol's troupe until he returned back home, again participating in the drama group, and after completing the gymnasium in 1929 he was brought by his mother to America so he could settle into his studies. But here he soon took to the estrada (highway), and in a year's time [he] participated in small arts with a collective of the "Goldfaden Theatre" for the International Workers Order, performing in concerts, participating with folksongs on the Yiddish radio with Arnold Jaffe, and he took drama courses for a year with Benjamin Zemach.

In 1942 he toured with the Ben Ami troupe and acted in the Hirshbein, Ibsen and Henri Bernstein repertoire in Detroit (mgr.

A. Littman), then for nine months performed with the "Folksbiene" in Los Angeles, California, with a repertoire of Yiddish folksongs and small arts, and also at the same time performed in concerts for the Jewish Labor Committee and for the Histadrut.

Returning to New York, B. was engaged for the "Hopkinson" Theatre (manager Oscar Green), where he performed as the  "blind soldier" in Freiman's "Hard to be Honest", and then he was invited by Israel Rosenberg into his vaudeville theatre on Clinton Street, which he entered into with success, staging Yiddish folk songs in repertoire for Yiddish vaudeville.

B. then became engaged to act in legitimate theatre in Chicago (manager A. Ostroff), and between seasons he directed there the Israel revue "Shalom, Tel Aviv", with Mina Bern and the Israeli actor Matityahu Rosen.

In 1945 he performed in New York for Maurice Schwartz in the role of "Nisn alter" during a star production of Hirshbein's "The Blacksmith's Daughters."

In 1949 B. became a member in the Yiddish Actors Union, and in 1952 he became, together with Henrietta Jacobson and Abraham Littman, manager of New York's National Yiddish Vaudeville Theatre.

For the last seven years, B. is the manager and participates in the tours across the United States and Canada of the "Farband" troupe, and in the summers he is program director and fellow participator in the programs in the Farband's "Unzer Camp."

B. has also participated as "Rubele" in the production of Fishl Bimko's "Father and Son" ["Dembes"] in the "Labor" Temple in October 1956.

B. has issued in an album with the following Yiddish songs: "Mame shprakh" by I. L. Wolfson, "Der fraylekher chasid", according to Chaim Katilansky, "Oyfn veg shtayt a boym" by Itsik Manger, "A yid, a shmid" by Wolf Yunin-Khpts, "Avramele marvikher" by Mordecai Gebirtik, "A zemerel" by M. Basin-Yosef Rumshinsky, "A doyne" by Zelig Berditshever, "Betler-lider", folklore, music arranged -- Bonus, "Bin ikh mir a shneyderl", folklore, and "Sha, shtil", a Chasidic song.

M. E.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2295.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.