Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
Volume 8



Jacob Goldstein

Jacob Goldstein.


Jacob Goldstein was born on 19 August 1866 in Kamenets-Podolsk, Ukraine. His uncle on his mother's side of the family was Menashe Brendman, who was the musical director of the Borisov company that had performed at the State Theatre.

His uncle would often take G. along with him to the theatre and always backstage, much to the young boy's delight. So G. already at an early age was exposed to the "lure" of the theatre. In addition, once he started acting in children's roles he was completely "bitten by the bug", and acting became his life's ambition.

So, at a very early age he ran away from home to Odessa, Ukraine, to hopefully further his career in the theatre. When his dream remained painfully unsuccessful, he returned home.

Later, after a pogrom took place in the region, both he and his older brother Simon made their way to America, where the two boys enrolled in night school. However, Jacob soon dropped out to once again pursue his life's ambition of becoming an actor.

 He swept the floors of the Windsor Theatre in New York City, and took the most menial chores, as long as they were connected to the theatre. At last he achieved the status of being accepted into a dramatic club -- an achievement in that era -- and from there it was on to the Brownsville Metropolitan Singers Hall, where he was at last cast in a small role in a play called "Chaim in America", and later he received larger roles.

He worked himself up to a role in the sensation of the year, in a play called "Der vilder mensch (The Wild Man)", and from there he went on to the Golden Rule Hall, then the Thalia Music Hall in New York City, where he performed for the next two years until he finally hooked up with a road company that traveled all around the United States and Canada. That brought him Baltimore, Maryland, where he fell in love and married a young lady named Sadie Shapiro.

Sadie was not an actress. she was the daughter of the actress Anna Shapiro, who was a member of the acting company in Baltimore that Jacob had joined for the season. Anna's husband Charles, also an actor, had passed away two years earlier, in 1909, and this was now 1911.

In 1914, already the proud father of a baby girl, Jacob traveled around the country in English vaudeville, until returning once again to the Yiddish theatre, this time in Toronto, Canada. There he partnered with Nathan Goldberg and Isidore Meltzer in a venture, until finally he went over to Max Gabel's theatre in New York, followed by a season with Maurice Schwartz at the old Irving Place Theatre (now a landmark). After that, he once again tried his hand at becoming a manager, as well as an actor, this time along with the fine actor Joseph Schoengold and Sam Auerbach, another actor, they became partners in a theatre in Chicago. The season there was quite a success.

Then G. went back to New York again for a series of seasons in various theatres in New York, until 1925, which again saw him trying his luck as director and impresario, as well as an actor at the Capitol Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles, at the time, was not a theatre-oriented town, and this attempt was a complete disaster.

In 1926, he once again returned to New York to the National Theatre, and there he became a member of the company, followed by two years with Maurice Schwartz and his Yiddish Art Theatre. By 1929, it was the Folks Theatre on Second Avenue in New York City. Mischa and Lucy Gehrman were the stars there then.

In 1930, G. was with the company at the newly opened Lawndale Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

All throughout these years, G. remained an involved, active member of the Hebrew Actors Union, often serving most efficiently on its Executive Board, earning the trust of the other Board members, as well as the membership of the Union, his colleagues, for his honesty and integrity, considering all the decisions he was faced with making.

By season 1930-31, G.'s daughter, Charlotte, was already an actress, following in her father's footsteps. They were both engaged to perform in the same theatre in Detroit.

According to daughter Charlotte, in 1931-2, G. was so healthy and strong, never having been sick a day in his life. However G.'s last performance was given in Boston, as he succumbed to pneumonia there, which had quickly escalated from a simple cold. This occurred in the era before penicillin was discovered, which could have easily saved his life.

G. passed away on 19 April 1932, and he was greatly mourned by his wife and daughter, and by all who knew and admired him.

Per his loving daughter, Charlotte Goldstein, she refers to her father this way:

"I, his daughter, do so cherish the memory of my father and take such pride in the legacy he left behind, of a caring and compassionate person..."

On the sad occasion of G.'s passing, he was eulogized by a close friend, as such:

"Jacob Goldstein was a man possessed of untold wealth, incalculable when measured against his sense of truth and justice..."

Sh. E. from his daughter Charlotte Goldstein.






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Part of the new,  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", Volume 8, by Steven Lasky.
Biographical information and photographs courtesy of Charlotte Goldstein.
You can read the initial Lexicon biography of Jacob by clicking here.

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