Lives in the Yiddish Theatre



[He] was among the actors' group that, in circa 1882, Boris Thomashefsky was brought to America from London (with the boarding card of Frank Wolf), where he may have acted in Yiddish theatre (in the role of "Alikum" in Goldfaden's "Di kishufmakherin"( with the Golubok brothers he had participated in the first Yiddish productions in New York. After the failure of the production, S. became a cigar worker.)

In 1889 Pinchas Thomashefsky brought him in as an attraction to Philadelphia, where S. performed as "Hotzmach" in Goldfaden's "Di kishufmakherin".

Later he acted in comical character roles in Cleveland.

S.'s wife and children, Leah and Sofia, also acted on the Yiddish stage.

B. Thomashefsky recalls:

"Simon was a lad from Warsaw. From the Warsaw blessed young, [he was] a tall person, [with] a strong, slender figure, with a little, snub-nosed nozzle, which he had very beautifully adopted. Simon is by nature a quiet, peaceful person, a read person. His entire posture was aristocratic. Whoever has not seen Simon on the stage might think that he is a younger man, a merchant or a hometown doctor or a lawyer. He had the face of an actor in him, not staged. Simon had, however, made attempts to character act, and he became an entirely other person. His face first became ridiculous, playful, and assumed the form of the character, who he needed to portray. Simon was then the quiet, peaceful character actor, and he sung with a lovely tenor voice and sang as a musician and had a big, but in fact, a very great success in New York.

Simon first performed in New York as "Hotzmach" in Goldfaden's "Koldunya". I can say that Simon created the best "Hotzmach" of all the Hotzmachs who I had known in my theatrical career. ...Simon, a Jewish actor from many years back, had understood that for Hotzmach he was able to create a living human being, a character, not a crazy person. A Jew, a noble peddler, who was the provider for his wife with eighteen children, as Hotzmach expressed himself. He used to, as "Hotzmach", in the trade scene, making a sigh each time after shrinking a customer by his wisdom and will. One was able to se that Hotzmach does it with heart, that he, due to earning income he was forced to deceive a customer.

Simon acted together with us a second year and became lost. Later we had erfarn with him, that Simon had married and taken a very beautiful wife, a great singer, and went somewhere far away to a western town. They were away for many years and Simon wasn't seen. I had heard that he acted somewhere in the province when at the People's Theatre there was brought out the first Jewish theatre strike and myself and Adler and Edelstein had begun to search for Jewish artists -- there were among the arriving member artists, as well was Simon, with his wife, Madame Simon, a prima donna. However no longer the younger Simon of the time, with a whitened snow-covered head, white as a dove, Bakn incurred and he looked like a poor reverend or a priest from a small town, distinguished...acting then with us in Lateiner's "400 Years". ...I had given to Simon the role to play of an old cardinal. Simon performed in the People's Theatre, and I did not recognize him. It already wasn't the Simon, who I had known and about whom I used to speak with excitement. Simon had dressed himself badly, held himself badly, badly made himself up, and even acted badly. ... The strike had ended in the meantime with a victory by the union actors, and Mr. and Mrs. Simon went away from New York and completely gave up the stage. ...They had settled in Cleveland, where they led a beautiful and comfortable life. Their daughters were happily married, the father-in-laws were rich and maintained the Simons with great dignity. The Simon's son is a violin player, who gave concerts and made a lot of money. Once, once he saw pictures on large posters [advertisements] hanging in the Cleveland window: "Mr. and Mrs. Simon are performing a production for charity. Both long still today over the lost years. Simon still for the old "Hotzmach", and his wife for Goldfaden's "Shulamis"..."

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 17, 24.

  • "Thomashefsky's shriftn", N. Y., 1909.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Mayn lebens-geshikhte", N. Y., 1916, p. 96.

  • Boris Thomashefsky -- An amoliger idisher aktor, vos hot haynt groyse gesheften oyf brodvay, "Forward", N. Y., 1 September 1923.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1484.

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