Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Jacob Frank

Born on 22 June 1872 in Vlatzlavek, Poland. Father -- a Yiddish teacher in the Russian elementary school, then had a haberdashery business, learned in a cheder. At the age of fifteen, he arrived in America at the age of fifteen, together with his parents, who arrived as very old children. Here F. attended "night school". [evening school].

While in Vlatzlavek he, had, at eleven years, worked with a hairdresser and was employed as such in the Polish theatre with Troptsha. Since as with them in the house they used to most of the time speak German or Polish, the Polish language was very close, and when in the theatre a child role player became sick, he received the role and remained there to act for two years.

In America F. took up his hairdresser profession and performed as such in the "Oriental" Theatre. When Avraham Goldfaden came to America and opened a dramatic school, F. became one of the first students, and when Goldfaden staged, after six months, his play, "Dr. Almasado", F. acted in the role of "Gomets". F.'s older brother, Naftali, who khlt himself with theatre, took him in with him, without their parent's knowledge, to Philadelphia, and there he began in a hall, under his management, to act in Yiddish theatre, where there was also the future-famous actor Sam Kasten. For three years they slaved until Thomashefsky pushed them out, and they went away to act to Brownsville (Brooklyn), which then was still a small Jewish community, and as they earned very little, F. was forced to work as a hairdresser to support himself and his acting colleagues. So he suffered for six years, until they went to


Buffalo (New York), where they opened a Yiddish theatre for the first time, and Cincinnati. F. was engaged by Glickman for Chicago, where he acted for nine months, and from there to Mike Thomashefsky for Philadelphia, where he acted for four years, then two years in Baltimore with Sigmund Feinman, again six years in Philadelphia with Anshel Schorr, and two seasons with David Kessler in New York's "People's" Theatre, and when the manager Edelstein went over to the "Second Avenue" Theatre, F. was engaged here in the English plays.

In the meantime he became sick, and inasmuch as the author was in Paris, he began to attend to a new post, and entered into an English operetta, which however had a "short year". For an entire summer he didn't act, then he participated with Paul Muni in English in "Di 4 vent (The Four Walls)".

F. also played the "dresser" in the sound film "My Wife's Lover" by Sheine Rukhl Simkoff (with Ludwig Satz).

Due to illness, F. went away to California and settled in Los Angeles, where he spent his last years in a convalescent home, and he passed away there in November 1942.

F.'s wife, Chana (Anna), for a short time acted on the Yiddish stage. Their daughter, Bella, and son Abraham for a certain time acted on the Yiddish stage. His other daughter, Betty, for many years was a star on the Yiddish stage. She was married to Benjamin Blank, an orchestra conductor, the son of the well-known actor Leon Blank. F.'s brother, Nathan, for a certain time directed with Yiddish vaudeville.

Y. K. [Kirschenbaum] writes:

"One of the first Jewish comics who excelled in Goldfaden's repertoire. The deceased was Avraham Goldfaden's darling, so that Goldfaden used to call him "my American Kuni Lemel".

Frank was famous across the entirety of America. he was known as a comic across the province, as Mogulesko was in New York. In Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, Detroit, Chicago and other cities, Frank was a star, but for some reason he has not been known in New York.

Frank prosecuted the comic What was not needed aoysshimirn with mazes or rear(?) on his leg to make an audience laugh. He was a natural actor, a comic, who loved the kind of Jew who he had presented. He loved "Shmuel Kutsig". He loved the miserable, the farshtoysene and forgotten, and thus he acted well. He didn't perform in order to make the audience laugh, but to get sympathy and love for the man, for the type that he had portrayed.

Frank had excelled in the role of "Shmuel Gorgl" in the play "Dos poylishe yingl (The Polish Youth)", in Shomer's comedies and in other character-comical roles. He hated to play purposeless comedians, who said vitsn. He always created a type, a human being".

M. E.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- Kunst un kinstler, "Di idishe velt", Cleveland, 14 July 1915.

  • Y. K. [Kirschenbaum] -- Yakov frank, barimter komiker, geshtorbn in los andzheles, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 24 November 1942.

  • J. Kirschenbaum -- Barimter aktor yakov frak fert "bavaynt", als toyter in nyu-york un shteyt oyf tkhis hmtim in los andzheles, kalifornye, "Keneder adler", Montreal, 10 December 1942.

  • Julius Adler -- Meshus fun der idisher teater-velt, "Morgn frayhayt", N. Y, 30 October 1949.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 4973

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