Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Boris Rosenthal

He was born on October 25, 1881, in Kishinev, Bessarabia. His parents were flour merchants. He studied in a cheder, and at an early age began working in a factory. Afterwards he went to Lodz where from 1899 he again worked in a factory. He often attended the local German language theatre, which aroused in him a great desire to appear on the stage.

In 1924 Rosenthal played minor roles in Kaminska's theatre. Encouraged, he decided to become an actor. That same year he came home with the goal of appearing in a local troupe, but because he was afraid of his parents, he began to perform in Sabsey's troupe only when it began playing in Kalarash, near Kishinev. He made his debut there as "Avramtshe" in Goldfaden's "Bobe yakhna." He stayed with Sabsey for some time and then joined Fishzon's troupe.

At this time his parents immigrated to America, and in 1906 he joined them. He performed in the United States for two years, but because of problems with the Actors' Union he went to London with Feinman and performed there for two seasons.

In 1910 he went to Lodz to Zandberg and performed there very successfully for three years. Afterwards he returned to America, where he performed from 1913 through 1917 in Philadelphia, one year in the New York Yiddish Art Theatre, and from 1918-1921 in Thomashefsky's National Theatre.


From then until 1929 he performed in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre, and in the 1929-1930 season in Gabel's Public Theatre. Afterwards he again performed in the Second Avenue Theatre where he had minor roles due to his illness and partial paralysis.

Rosenthal also appeared in a few films.

On May 4, 1938, Boris Rosenthal passed away in New York.

The following appreciation appeared in an obituary in the Morning Journal:

"He became known as one of the very best character actors…He also devoted himself to writing lyrics for operettas, which are still performed…He came to America as a young actor, became a member of Local 2 of the Actors' Union and served as treasurer and executive member for many years. Local 2 later joined the local one and is now the only actors' union in America and Canada."

Zalmen Zylbercweig wrote about him as well:

I saw Rosenthal in his prime as well as in his last years. I remember him as a fiery, temperamental mercurial comedian and many years later as a thoughtful type called in theatre language 'character actor.' In both kinds of roles Rosenthal showed an extraordinary talent. He first showed his comedic abilities in Lodz as Berele in the operetta, 'A mentsh zol men zayn', and many years later, as a character actor in the Second Avenue Theatre in New York, in M. Osherowitz's play 'Tsarevitsh fyodor.'"

Between these two roles Rosenthal played hundreds of parts in many Yiddish operettas, farces, comedies, dramas and melodramas, many of which were produced in a hurry, others under carefully planned direction. In every role he played he showed his creativity, because he was blessed with a creative talent which he invested in roles which he embodied on the stage."

M. E.

Sh. E. from Zalmen Zylbercweig






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5131.

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