She was born in 1901 in
Kovno, Lita. Her grandfather was a rabbi. She learned to
read Yiddish during her childhood. From her young years
she demonstrated a great ability for the stage: She
sang, danced, recited. Even as a child of five she
performed with a declamation and later fantasized about
being an actress. When she completed a Peterburg
gymnasium [high school], she arrived in a dramatic
school with the Imperial Alexander Theatre, and then
played for two seasons in the theatre of Saburov, and in
"Theatre of Free Comedy," and at the same time
participated in the Peterburg theatre of light genre, "Balagancik."
In 1925 she settled in Riga, where she played in Russian
drama and then toured with "Blue Bird," under the
direction of Yuzhni across Western Europe. She returned
to Riga and performed in Russian in Russian drama and in
the operetta, where she also sang a Yiddish song.
In 1932 she crossed over to
Yiddish theatre. Before she went away she diligently
studied Yiddish. About an episode she had with Yiddish,
"In Suborov's theatre in
Peterburg, where she played, a comedy was going on about
Jewish life, 'Di hern toyer,' According to him, she had
to say a Yiddish phrase there: 'Well, what did the
say?," and the Yiddish prose had such a colossal success
that in the span of several months, as long as the play
was going on, It became a flying phrase in the city.
Everyone everywhere said it. And it can almost be said
that part of her popularity was due to her Yiddish
L. Mirkes (Mark Razumni),
who had a talk with her before her moving onto the
Yiddish stage, writes:
"For a long time Nina Talini
has had an interest in the Yiddish language and for
Yiddish theatre, and it was even brought up on us Jews
who do not like Yiddish. 'It is simply incomprehensible
to me -- she says -- How does a Jew not speak Yiddish
and how does a Jewish child learn Yiddish?" It is a
pleasure to hear such genuine Yiddish speech by the
foreign [goyish] speaker Nina Talini with a golden shock
of hair on her head. I cannot free myself from this
imprint that here we sit opposite a one hundred percent
non-Jewish girl [shikse], and that when she first begins
to speak Yiddish, I convince myself that I must be
wrong. 'You yourself do not regard me as a goy -- says
Mrs. Talini with a guilty smile -- I think, in my
childhood years used to constantly hear from my
grandfather the rabbi at home, as the rabbi's wife says
to the Jews, that what came to him was the 'word of
G-d,.' I turned down the phrase, and whoever was coming
would say: 'Word of G-d. Be seated,' and often we used
to look at the Jews and ask the grandmother: 'See how
good the shikse speaks Yiddish.' "
For several years T.
played on the Yiddish stage, both in the operetta ("Dos
iz zi," "Di amerikanerin," et al.), and in the drama. On
23 September 1933 she performed in the role of "Janus"
in "Dovid golder" by Irena Nyemirovska.
Zalmen Zylbercweig, who
saw her act in Riga in the Yiddish operetta, writes:
Besides a beautiful voice, which was very appropriate
for the prima donna roles, and partly soubrette roles,
which she played, she was thought to be extraordinarily
elegant, refined and a graceful, who evoked great
enthusiasm when they saw her on the stage boards. She
was naturally lovely, but the stage added even more
beauty to her. She had a good scenic experience, played
with temperament, and when not the destruction of World
War II had occurred. She has the best look for many
years to actually dominate the stage.
After the outbreak of the
Second World War, she and her family began to feel
scared, that Hitler will capture Latvia. They liquidated
their home. Her husband who was a well-to-do merchant in
Riga, had together with her and a son immigrated to
America. Her husband began to look for a business and
did not find one. T. tried to perform in concerts and
did not obtain any possibilities. She received a role in
a Yiddish film with Michalesko, but her pressing
economic condition, it caused her despair and anxiety,
that nobody was at home, and on 28 February 1940 she
hung herself in her home in New York.
Sh.E. from Zalmen
L. Mirkes (Mark
Razumni) -- Nina Talini -- di "yid. shikse," vos
kert zikh um tsum riga yid. teater, 'Batag,'
Riga, 16 November 1932.
Shoshana G. --
Nina Talini -- gayer "star" in riga yidishn
teater, dort, 20 September 1933.
Flichtling-zingerin fun rusland hengt zikh ven
ir man get zuchen a rushav, "Forward," N.Y., 1