Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Miriam Kressyn

Born on March 4, 1911 in Bialystok in Polish Lithuania.

Her father was a salesman. He could not earn enough to support his family.

He immigrated to America, bringing two of his daughters. Three years later, he returned to Poland.

Miriam Kressyn studied in a cheder and in a public school. Later she became a member of the “Small Bund” where she was summarily arrested for smuggling banned literature.

She immigrated with her entire family to America and settled in Boston, where she attended a summer school and afterwards high school. She sang in choral classes and attended singing classes given by her teacher, Miss Dalton. She won a contest of the best student-singers in the New England Conservatory in Boston, and received a scholarship of five-thousand dollars to travel abroad to study music.

While Julius and Anna Nathanson were appearing in Boston in  Freiman’s “Golden Bride”, they heard her sing quite by accident. He invited her to join the chorus in his theatre, where she sang a solo in “The Golden Soldier”. She stayed on as a member of the chorus.

In forthcoming guest roles, she played a serial role (a nurse) with Max Gabel in “Bridal Gown” and afterwards as a young boy in “The Bandit” with Ludwig Satz and in “Three Brides” with Leon Blank.  She had a walk-on in a children’s presentation of ”Shulamis”, but didn’t yet consider this to be her career since she was determined to become a lawyer and was preparing to study at Northeastern University. In the evenings she continued to sing in the chorus for one season playing incidental roles.  She then performed in the “Cabaret Symphony”. She was brought back to Yiddish theatre by Hymie Jacobson, who heard her sing and rehearsed with her, preparing for them to sing together in “Gypsy Duet”. She soon appeared in a more prominent role in Rumshinsky’s ”Get Married”. She traveled around appearing with Aaron Lebedeff and Hymie Jacobson in the Lawndale Theatre, having equal billing with them.

In 1930-31 she played in Philadelphia’s “Arch Street Theatre” (with Hymie Jacobson and Simon Wolff). On 3 February 1931 she joined the Yiddish Actor’s Union and traveled as guest performer to Boston. In the summer of 1931 she was guest performer in Argentina with Hymie Jacobson (whom she married in 1933). She traveled with him as a guest performer throughout Europe (Belgium, England, France, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland). While she was in Warsaw she divided her time between appearing on stage in “Esther” and in the film “the Purim Players” (Text--Itzik Manger, Music--Nicholas Brodsky, Producer--Firsht Pczhibilski, Director--Joseph Green). She returned to America and played in the Williamsburg Cooperative Lyric Theatre. Afterwards she played in various other theatres till 1938 when she traveled once again with Hymie Jacobson to Poland. She then returned to America. In 1939 she was a guest performer in South Africa. She came back to America and in December 1933 she took part in Maurice Schwartz’s “Yiddish Art Theatre” in “If I Were Rothschild” by Sholem Aleichem and in Asch’s “Psalm Jew”. Once again she traveled as a guest performer to Argentina and Brazil and from there to London, and once more back to America where in 1943 she married Seymour Rechtzeit.  She appeared with him in various theatres in New York such as the National, the Public and the Second Avenue as a partner with Menasha Skulnik, Michalesko, Fuchs, A. Grossman, Zayenda, and Irving Jacobson.

In 1947 she played in the Parkway Theatre as” Shoshana" in “When Your Heart is Young” (Directed by G. Goldberg and Jacob Jacobs). In 1948 in the same theatre she played the title role of “Anna Lucasta” by Philip Jordan. .

In 1955, Kressyn once again played in the “Yiddish Art Theatre” in L. Treister’s “The Shepherd King” (her role was Ritzpa), and after that she played “Dinele” in “The Brothers Ashkenazi”.

Apart from all her other undertakings, Kressyn, appeared on radio in the “Forwards Hour”  starring in plays by Bashevis Singer, Ossip Dymov, Dluzhgovski and Kadya Moladovski. For many years she had her own programs as a singer and commentator on radio station WEVD, where she was in charge of writing her own book reviews, conversations with famous personalities and guests and commented about different social issues. She also had an original program “Meet up with Miriam Kressyn” where she discussed a variety of  worldwide commercial undertakings.

Kressyn also appeared on Yiddish-English television over a period of four years together with her husband Seymour Rechzeit.

Kressyn recorded additional songs “Machetenyste”,  “Motele” , “Shpilt a hassene uf”, “Margaritkes”, “Yosele klezmer”, “A Heimishe polkeh”, “Tyere malke”, “Tumbalaliake”, ”Mazel”, “Mein yidishe mame” , “Oy vey iz tzu mir”, “Ven mentschen zoln bliebn kinder”, “Bultitchki”, “Zol nur zany shabbes”, “Licht bentshn” “(and together with Seymour Rechzeit: “Bet mir a bisele”, “Du un ikh”, “Enjoy yourself”, “Ir zent farlibt” and “Tzena tzena".

In the “Forward”, Chone Gottesfeld, published, under various titles, ” (April 28 - July 3, 1951), a series of episodes from Kressyn’s life, ”Miriam Kressyn--in Life and on the Stage”.

  • Dr.L. Zshiynitzki-- The debut of Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn in “Ambo” “Di prese” May 25, 1931.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum-- The New Actress Miriam Kressyn, Max’s, New York December 9, 1932.

  • Jacobi-- First appearance of Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn, Folks blat, Kovno, December 19, 1933.

  • Y.Z. Zacks-- “Gypsy Love” with Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn, “Di Iddishe shtime”, Kovno, January 31, 1934.

  • Z. M. Minkoff-- Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn, “Frimorgn”, Riga March 16, 1934.

  • M. Kipnik-- A stroll through the theatre and concerts” ,“Heynt”, Warsaw, June 15, 1934.

  • Elchana Zeitlin-- Hymie Jacobson, Miriam Kressyn, -Tzum Viderzehen” Unzer Ekspres”, Warsaw, July 25, 1934.

  • N.M. Mayzel-- Uftrit fun Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn, "Literarishe bleter" Warsaw, November 15, 1934.

  • Tzvey Yidn-- A talk with famous artist Hymie Jacobson, Lodz Folksblat, July 1, 1938.

  • Dr. M. Sudarsky-- Zalmen Zilbercweiz in Lita, in Zalmen Zilbercweig Jubilee book, New York, Summer 1941, Vol.. 79-87.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2371.

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