Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Leon Charaz


Ch. was born on 31 July 1886 in Klevan, Poland. His father was a Trisker Chasid, a trader of fur coasts. He learned in cheders and in a Beit HaMedrash.

In 1903 he saw Yiddish theatre for the first time in Rovno ("Shulamis" in Kaminski's troupe). He often attended appearances by the guest-starring troupes, until 1906, when he joined Guzik's troupe, debuting in "Mishke un moshke." After acting in the play for several weeks, Ch. went over to dramatic roles and performed in Lubni (Poltava Gubernia) for Genfer, with whose troupe he toured with for five years across Russia and Lithuania. Here Esther Rukhl Kaminska engaged him for her Warsaw troupe. Ch. had no respect from the audience, and he went back to Russia and into the local troupe, and for a sort time later was engaged again by E. R. Kaminska for Warsaw.

In 1913 he acted in Lodz's "Grand Theatre" (Director I. Zandberg). Here Ch. became in a "director's [bafel]" a comic and he soon became one of the popular performers in Poland. During wartime Ch. was one of the founders and main actors of the troupe in the Central Theatre in Warsaw and created a range of character roles for the European operetta.

In 1921 Ch., through Thomashefsky, was brought to America and he performed in March 1921 in the National Theatre, acting later in the Liberty Theatre, then in Boston, and in Brooklyn's Lyric Theatre, 1928-29 in New York's Second Avenue Theatre (with Molly Picon), and in 1929-30 he was in Boston with Hollander.

Here he withdrew for a time from the stage, took up commerce, but during the 1932-33 season he acted once again in Detroit's Yiddish theatre (Director A. Littman) -- Harry Landman.

[Editor's note: Ch. was active in Yiddish theatre in the U.S. at least through 1950. He passed away on June 20, 1956 and is interred in the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance plot at Mt. Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, New York.]

M. E.

  • M. Grim -- Teater gotitsen, "Fraye arbeiter shtime," N. Y., 1 April 1921.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- Naye pnimer oyf unzer bine, Morning Journal, N. Y., 7 January 1927.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 954.

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