Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Menasha Skulnik


Born on 15 May 1892 in Chmielnik, Kielce Gubernia, Poland. Parents -- artisans. He learned in a cheder and Bet HaMedrash and sang as an alto with a cantor. In 1900, he moved with his family to Warsaw. He often used to attend the circus and cheap Polish productions, and afterwards with other children imitated "theatre" acting for buttons. Later, he "made theatre" in private houses with "amateurs" (the late actors Yablonski, Shidlover, Silberkasten, Gershtenzang, Vayshof), acting in the women's roles ("Dinah" in "Treyfniak," "Karolina" in "Kibutsenzon un hungerman"). When all the "amateurs" traveled as a troupe under the direction of Misha German, S. put together a troupe of children, students, and with three plays traveled with them around for a year across the province. After acting in Mezritch with "amateurs," he entered into the guest-starring troupe  of Mishurat and acted later in the troupes of Krause, Sabsey and Genfer. For a price, he went away to Krakow and from there to Vienna, where he acted in the "beyerishn" court/garden.

1913 -- arrived in America and here was engaged by Mike Thomashefsky and Anshel Schorr for Philadelphia, where for five years he was a role writer, scenic director, stage manager, publicity manager, part-time regisseur, and a part-time messenger, [also] acting in small roles.

During entrance examinations to become a member in the union, he debuted as a comical character, and S. used that specialty for an engagement in Schnitzer's Art Theatre, where he had acted

 with Ben Ami, Schwartz, Schildkraut, then six years on the road.

1927-28 -- in Brooklyn's Liberty Theatre (director Anshel Schorr),
1928 -- guest-starring in Argentina,
1928-29 -- acting in New York,
1929 -- again guest-starring with his wife in Argentina, where he had, with others, staged Chone Gottesfeld's comedy "Parnassah,"
1930-31 -- acted in Brooklyn's Rolland Theatre,
1931-32 -- in New York's Folks Theatre, (director Misha German)
1932-33 -- (together with Oscar Green) manager of the Hopkinson Theatre, where he directed and acted in the main roles in Israel Rosenberg's "Mister Shlumiel," Y. Alkan's "Rooms For Rent," and Rosenberg's and Fridman's "Getzel Becomes a Groom."

S. also participated in New York and the Hebrew production of "Uriel Acosta," P. Hirshbein's "The Blacksmith's Daughter," and H. D. Nomberg's "Di mishpakha (The Family)" (role of "Finkelgreen").

He also was regisseur and acted in the Yiddish talkie "Oy a doktor," and performed in English on the radio in the comedy, "The Rise of the Goldbergs."

M. E.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- In un arum teater, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 18 November 1927.

  • B. [N. Buchwald] -- M. skulnik, komiker, "Frayhayt," N. Y., 24 February 1928.

  • L. Melakh -- Vegn menasha skulnik, "Prese," Buenos Aires, 25 May 1928.

  • Jacob Botoshansky -- Der debut fun menasha skulnik in teater "ekselsior," "Prese," Buenos Aires, 11 June 1928.

  • H. Zakhak -- Menasha skulnik, der aktyor vos makht lakhen un veyben, "Di idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 11 June 1928.

  • Sh. R. [Rozhansky] -- Tsu menasha skulnik debut in "ekselsior," kharakteristik fun talentfuln kharakter-komiker, "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 21 August 1929.

  • Nun Tsadik [N. Tsuker] -- Der debut fun menasha skulnik, "Argentiner tog," Buenos Aires, 23 August 1929.

  • Jacob Botoshansky -- Sara un menasha skulnik in "ekselsior," "Prese," Buenos Aires, 26 August 1929.

  • Sh. R. -- A leykhte komdeye, oyfgefirt fun m. skulnik, "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 5 September 1929.

  • Dr. L. Zhitnitsky -- Menasha skulnik, "Prese," 27 September 1929.

  • Sh. R. -- A leykhte-faarveylndike komedye in "ekselsior," oyfgefirt fun menasha skulnik, "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 20 October 1929.

  • Shmeul Rozhansky -- Menasha skulniks ern-ovnt in "ekselsior," "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 25 October 1929.

  • Sh. R. -- "A sud fun a meydl" fun semuel kohn, oyfgefirt fun menasha skulnik, "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 3 November 1929.

  • Sh. R. -- "Di bobe yakhne" oyfgefirt an a rezhiser (fun menasha skulnik), "Idishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 25 November 1929.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- "Di groyse frage" fun z. libin, oyfgefirt fun menasha skulnik, "Idishe tsayt," Buenos Aires, 9 December 1929.

  • M. G. [Giser] -- "Di groyse frage" (fun z. libin) oyfgefirt durkh m. skulnik, "Argentiner teg," Buenos Aires, 9 December 1929.

  • F. Chaims -- Di gastshpiln fun der ekselsior-trupe mit der batgeylikung fun menasha skulnik, "Rozarier vokhnblat," N' 288, 1929.

  • Chaim Reich [Z. Zilbercweig] -- Shpasige teater mesh'lekh vegen menasha skulnik, "Di idishe velt," Philadelphia, 18 March 1932.

  • S. Regensberg -- Menasha skulnik's oyftrit in "artsh" als "fishl der gerotener," "Di idishe velt," Philadelphia, 28 March 1932.

  • Ezriel Fleishman -- "Mister shlumiel" -- in hopkinson teater, "Tog," N. Y., 7 October 1932.

  • L. Fogelman -- Menasha skulnik in a neyer piese in hopkinson teater, "Forward," N. Y., 21 October 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1538.
There is also a larger, amended biography of Menasha in the Lexicon's Vol. 6.

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