Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Charlie Cohan
(Shabtai; Cohen)


Born on 12 April 1886 in New York. Father -- a teacher of Yiddish, English, German and Hebrew. He learned with his father, in a cheder and in "public school". Due to his father's early death, he had to take up a trade.

When C. learned in a cheder, he sang as an "alto" with a cantor, with whom Louis Friedsell was a conductor, and he engaged him, in 1900, to perform in a children's production in the role of "Dinah", in Goldfaden's "Bar Kochba".

In 1901 C. entered into English Broadway theatre, where he acted in small roles with the prominent American actors, and then in Yiddish variety theatres until 1907. From 1907 until 1920 he further acted in English in vaudeville theatres in England, performing very often in solo numbers as a coupletist and dancer. Here he also had the opportunity to act with Charlie Chaplin.

Returning to America, C. during the 1920-21 season, entered into New York's People's Theatre and acted then with Clara Young, in "fat" and character roles with Max Gabel (until 1929), later for a series of years in the Second Avenue Theatre (with Molly Picon, Menasha Skulnik and the other stars), in the Public Theatre (Manager Y. Bleich and Julia Boyrns). 1945-49 -- he acted in the Yiddish Art Theatre (among his other roles -- "Tuval" in "Shylock and his Daughter"), and from 1950-54 in the Second Avenue Theatre (manager Irving Jacobson, Zayenda, et al.).

Since 1922, C. is the financial secretary of the Hebrew Actors Union; since 1953 her delegate to to the "Four I.'s" (I. I. I. I.), and since 1929 he has been the Executive Secretary of the "Yiddish Theatrical Alliance".

C. was a member of the committee of the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre".

C.'s second wife, Florence, had in her youth acted in English in vaudeville, and C.'s brother, Harry, was a Yiddish actor.

M. E.

  • Chaim Ehrenreich -- Charles kohen, idisher komiker, iz aibetsik yor alt gevorn, "Forward", N. Y., 14 April 1956.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2136.

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