Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Moshe Ber Samuiloff

Moshe Ber Samuiloff was born on December 17, 1876, in Lemberg, Galicia [now L'viv, Ukraine]. His father was an assistant cantor and later became the chief cantor of Tarnow, Galicia. There Samuiloff received his elementary education in a Polish school and studied Yiddish and Hebrew in the Yiddish school of Tselt.

In 1885 the family moved to Galati, Rumania, where his father became the chief cantor and singing teacher. There Samuiloff studied in a school run by a Christian German named Moritz Pinsker, and he learned Yiddish in a private German-Jewish school run by Teler, who had written some Hebrew books. Later Samuiloff went to Vienna to study in a gymnasium, but because of his father's death, he had to return home.

With no possibility of employment, Samuiloff left his home and came to Bucharest, where he had the opportunity to see Goldfaden's production of "Moshiakh's tsaytn." He developed a strong desire to appear on stage. Since he knew the melodies from his father's compositions, he was hired as a chorus singer in Juvelier's troupe in the "Jignitza". He made his debut in the role of a servant in the operetta "Rashi." In later troupes, of Segalesco and Goldfaden, Samuiloff sang in the chorus and played minor roles. He joined the troupe formed by Gavriel Finkelstein and his wife Aneta (nee Finkel), which included Joseph Weinstock, director, Shpigler, prompter, and his wife, Simovitsh, Zilberman, Fridman and his wife. They went to Bulgaria where Samuiloff had more important roles, and they toured all over Bulgaria, Rumania, Constantinople, Galicia and Berlin.

Later Samuiloff became the director of the Yiddish theatre in Krakow, Galicia for three seasons. He played in Lemberg for two years with Gimpel, and for a few years was director and actor in Czernowitz with Akselrad, where he produced among others, Lessing's "Natan ha-khakham" and David Pinsky's "Family Tsvi."

For a certain period of time Samuiloff appeared on the German stage with Georg Eger and Alexander Molten, then with Frieda Lanyus and Karf and then with the Royal Actress Aneta Barseska in German and Rumanian. Because of the anti-Semitism among the German actors in the Alexander Theatre in Berlin, Samuiloff decided to return to the Yiddish stage.

From 1917 on Samuiloff appeared on the Yiddish stage in America. He played in the Yiddish Art Theatre for a few seasons. A number of times he played in and directed Hebrew performance of plays by Peretz Hirshbein.

From 1930-1932 Samuiloff appeared in English in various theatres all over the United States in the role of Abraham Kaplan in Elmer Rice's "Street Scene."

From 1918-1919 Samuiloff published some articles on the Yiddish theatre in "Der varhayt".

Sh. E.

  • "Uriel mazik: photo gallery of our Yiddish actors," Der tog, N.Y. 26 Jan. 1918.

  • B. Botwinik, "Young Yiddish talents on the Yiddish stage," Forward, N.Y. 24 Dec. 1918.

  • Alter Epshteyn, " Interesting moments in actors' lives," Der tog, N.Y. 9 Feb.1919.

  • [-] Two prominent Yiddish actors appear this week on the English [language] stage in Boston," Forward, N.Y. 16 Nov. 1930.

  • [-] "Veteran from Yiddish Stage in Prize Play," Daily Record, Boston, 1 Dec. 1930.

  • [-] "Samuilow in many hits," Boston Evening American, 12 Dec. 1930.

  • S. Vaybord, "Street Scene in Massachusetts Theatre," Der tog, Boston, 17 Dec. 1930.

  • [-] "The Language Star Actor in 'Street Scene' has acted in many Younges [sic!] Tongues," Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, 14 Feb. 1931.

  • [-] "Famous Yiddish actor in chief role of a beautiful play in Forrest Theatre," Der tog, Philadelphia, 25 Feb. 1931.

  • [-] "English [language] actor who reads the Forward," Forward, Philadelphia, 1 March 1931.

  • M.B. Samuiloff, " A letter from Mr. Samuiloff, the Yiddish actor who plays an important role in the English [language] play, 'Street Scene,' " Forward, Philadelphia, 8 March 1931.

  • [-] M.B. Samuylow's acting is too real at  times," The Philadelphia Record, 8 March 1931.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1442.

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