Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Anita (Chana) Freundlich-Sheff


Born on 22 October 1911 in Berlin, Germany. Father -- a chemical engineer and architect, moved over two years later to Bendin, Poland. She learned in the gymnasium of Jadwiga Krzhemovska and studied music in the Katowice conservatory. In 1926 she performed as "Shulamis", in "deytshmerish", with an amateur group from Bendin, Sosnowiec and Dombrova. Later, already in Yiddish, [she performed] as "Leah" in Anski's "Dybuk" (under the direction of David Herman), with the dramatic society "Muza", where she became more familiar with the Yiddish language. 1927 -- acted in Adolf Meltzer's winter theatre in Krakow, where she performed for a season in Goldfaden and other repertoires (together with Mr. and Mrs. Palepade, Yitzhak Mestel, Gizi Heyden, Shlomo Pryzament, Meisel et al), then became engaged by Polish director Henrik Chernitski to act in Polish in "Shulamis" and "Yehudis" in "Uriel Acosta". Later she performed in the role of "Santuzza" in the opera "Cavalleria rusticana" (under the direction of Prof. Binenstein and Wiener), and she then returned to Yiddish theatre (with the actor Gershanovitsh, Sam Adler, et al).

In 1929 F. performed in the Katowice opera in the role of "Mimi" in "La bohème" and "Tantutsya". At the end of 1930 she traveled with a part of her family to other parts in Cuba, and performed for three months in the Havana cabaret "Sans Souci", later she went over to the Yiddish theatre troupe of Morris Brown and Ginter, who

acted in Havana. In 1931 she traveled to America, earlier to New York, then to her family in Los Angeles, where she became a frequent guest on the Yiddish radio programs of Isidore Epstein and Fannie Reinhard and also sang for "Fox" and "Paramount" in movies for non-singing actresses. Acting for a certain time as a prima donna in Yiddish theatre with Hymie Prizant (in "Figuero Play House").

In 1933 she married pianist Dave Sheff and made a home with him in San Francisco, where she performed in concerts and krigt a scholarship from Prof. Krohn and Arthur Kasilia. In 1935 she traveled with her husband to Chicago, where she performed on the Yiddish radio, in nightclubs and acted in Yiddish theatre with local actors. In 1936 she performed as a solos singer with Rose Betankur's orchestra in Chicago in such places as the "Palmer House", "Hotel Vudro", et al; afterwards with the orchestra of Ramon Orias, and also gave concerts in hospitals and prisons. 1938 -- returned to California and settled in Oakland, where she performed in concerts and went onto social work, especially in the area of aid.

Since 1940 she has returned to Los Angeles, where she often performs in concerts, recitations, participating in the productions with Dr. Baratov, Wendrof, Zemach, Elihu Tenenholz, Wolf Goldfaden, Adolf Freiman, Leo Fuchs, Chaim Toyber and Celia Silver (acting on 18 April 1953 in the role of "Liza" in Kobrin's "Der doktors veyber"), singing for the U. S. A. military camps, and Zylbercweig's Yiddish radio [program].

F. also is very active socially, and was the secretary of Dr. Baratov's Matzeva Committee, the David Pinski branch of the Farband, Elihu Tenenholtz's anniversary committee, and Esther Hirshbein-Shumiatsher's book committee.

M. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2258.

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