Born on 15 March 1887 in
Riga, Latvia, was a choir boy with his father -- a
cantor in the old-new shul. He learned in cheders, and
as a child of about seven he came with his parents to
America, due to the eviction from Riga. Until age
thirteen he learned with his father, who in New York
also was a cantor, and with R' Chaim Vidrovitsh ("The
Moscow Rabbi"). At the same time he sang with Boruch
Schorr. He completed public school, and by himself
settled into his studies, and on a whim sold in the
streets socialist newspapers.
Even as a child he sang
"Heyse babkelekh (Hot Cakes)" in Goldfaden's "Kishuf-makherin
(The Sorceress/Witch)" in a troupe in Brooklyn (Sam
Levenwirt, Sam Kestin and Jacob Frank) and acted in
other children's roles in various troupes. At the age of
fourteen, together with Abraham Littman, he founded the
"Star Dramatic Fareyn (Association)", the first amateur
association to act in a theatre-bnim. F.
performed there in father- and intriguing roles.
F. for several years worked
as a jacket sewer. He entered into a Brownsville troupe
and debuted as the father in Goldfaden's "Shmendrik".
His father came to the production with the police and
took him home, and so he went again away for a
year-and-a-half for the theatre. F. founded then,
together with Sam Goldberg, a dramatic club, but after
acting for two weeks in Yiddish vaudeville, he became
engaged to Boris Thomashefsky's and Leon Golubok's
"Atlantic Garden", where he acted for a season