Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Berta Tanzman


T. was born in 1856 in Riga, Latvia. Her father was a tailor. T. had a beautiful voice, and when he troupe of Spivakovski-Rozenberg had guest-starred in Riga, they had secretly taken her in and made her a prima donna. In 1879 T. came with the troupe to Warsaw, but due to the forbiddance of Yiddish theatre, T. was forced to perform in concerts. Later she traveled with a troupe in the province where the forbiddance to act in Yiddish theatre was not as deep. There she married Tanzman, and she then performed under that name.

In the beginning of the eighth decade of the nineteenth century, T. performed in the Warsaw Eldorado Theatre, having a great success as "Shulamit" and later as "Dinah" in ("Bar Kochba") and "Esther hamelekh (Esther the Queen)" (in "Ahasuerus") under Goldfaden's direction.

After acting for several seasons in Warsaw, she traveled with the troupe to Lodz, where she was very popular with the theatre audience. Then there she returned to act in Warsaw and to act there until 1887, when it was again forbidden to act in Yiddish theatre.

T. then traveled across the larger cities of Poland, Russia, and Lithuania, and due to the returning ban in Warsaw, she entered into, together with her troupe, into Gimpel's theatre in Lemberg.


Berta Kalich relates that T. was intelligent, beautiful, piquant and had a pretty little [khn]. In Lemberg, where she had acted for a long time, one had really worn hands [?]

T.'s name had also been received in America, and the manager Mandelkern in 1889 she came to Lemberg and she and her husband took to America, where she debuted in February 1890.

Also in New York she soon acquired a name with the public. Acting in various troupes across America, in 1926 T. passed away in Pittsburgh and left four children: three daughters and a son, Joseph, a Yiddish actor and playwright.

M. E. from H. Feinstein and Sh. E. from Pinchas Tanzman.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 126, 143, 145.

  • Yehoshua Mezakh -- "Bmt itzhak un msha gya khziun", Warsaw, 1889.

  • Boris Thomashefsky -- "Thomashefskis theater shriften", pp. 62-67.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Meyn lebens geshikhte", p. 132.

  • Berta Kalich [memoirs] -- "Tog", N. Y., 18, 29 April, 1925.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 854.

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