Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Lucy Finkel


F. was born on 29 November 1897 in New York. Her parents were the actors Morris and Emma Finkel. She learned in a public school and, already as a child of seven, she performed in the chorus of her uncle, Thomashefsky's troupe, where she also played in children's roles [Her mother Emma was a sister of Boris Thomashefsky-- ed.]

Still in her early youth she began to represent prima donnas in sickness falls. The first prominent role she received was in "Lustike yidelekh" (1918) in Thomashefsky's National Theatre, then as a prima donna four seasons in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre, a season in the Grand Street Theatre.

In 1926-27 she was in the Lenox Theatre, where she created the role of "Lily" in Moshe Richter's "High Society"; 1928-29 in the Prospect Theatre, then in other prominent Yiddish theatres.

In the summer of 1933, together with Muni Serebrov, she guest-starred in Argentinean Yiddish theatre, where she played in the Teatro Excelsior, and in the operetta, "The Three Lovers."

About F.'s playing in Argentina, the actress Zina Rappel writes in her memoirs: "There were various guest artists in our theatre, for better or for worse, and each brought a certain new tone, who


enriched the theatre arts in Argentina, [such as] the subtle Serebrov, with the even more subtle Lucy Finkel."

F. later experienced in New York an automobile accident, after which she was ill for several months. Later she nearly retired from the stage and learned to sing with a famous music teacher.

She became sick with leukemia and passed away on 22 June 1943 in New York.

The Jewish World Almanac characterized her as such:

"She was best in the roles of modest Jewish daughters, which she would play on the stage. She played these roles with a true heart and sings with a holy shiver, because it is actually in her personal life alone that she is a modest, humble Jewish girl."

About her last years, the composer Joseph Rumshinsky writes:

"Lucy Finkel, the former Yiddish prima donna, was employed by Hollywood as a talent scout, that is, she had to search for talent for the movie world, and also earned a lot of money. Unfortunately an accident happened to Lucy. She became ill from a difficult illness and not withstanding all the efforts of the doctors, and upon the effort that her sister Bella had laid out, she died, eynhilndik in a great grief, the theatre circles not only on Second Avenue, but also in Hollywood, where she was already well-known and loved."

Leon Gottlieb characterized her as such:

"Entirely young the two sisters Lucy and Bella began their stage careers. Both were, by nature, gifted with beautiful voices, which were inherited from their mother and from Uncle Boris, and they began to sing in chorus. When it used to happen that an actress became unhealthy, one of the Finkel sisters would act in the role of the actress who had become sick. By studying the role with the younger choristers, they had immediately seen that she also had a dramatic heart, and this was confirmed when Lucy or Bella performed in that role. .... The Finkel sisters started their careers in the National Theatre with their famous uncle Boris Thomashefsky.

The very great success as prima donna the deceased had in Louis Freiman's "The Golden Bride" ... over several years back Lucy was invited to play in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She played there with the well-known actor Muni Serebrov and had an incredible success. The famous musician Joseph Rumshinsky done much to develop Lucy's voice and the knowledge of singing."

M. E.

  • The Lead Pencil [B. Botwinick]-- Amerikaner kinder oyf der yidisher bine, "Forward," N.Y., 7 December 1923.

  • "Yidisher velt-almanakh," New York, 1926, pp.357-58.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky-- Der debut fun muni serebrov un lusi finkel in teater "ekselsior," "Yidishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 25 June 1933.

  • Leon Gottlieb-- Di kariere fun der talentfuler akterise lusi finkel, "Forward," N.Y., 25 June 1943.

  • Joseph Rumshinsky-- "Klangen fun mayn lebn," New York, 1944, p. 293.

  • Nechamya Zucker-- "Fir dorot yidish teater," Buenos Aires, 1944, p. 453.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 2804

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