Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Leola Wendorff


Born in Warsaw, Poland, into a very religious family. Father -- a former Nikolayev soldier, who traded lumber and animals in Russia. She learned with "small rbile" verses and Rashi, and privately with a Russian and Polish teacher. At age three she became an orphan of her father, and she was then raised by a rich, religious brother, and at age eleven she traveled with her mother to a sister's wedding in America, where she married at a very young age.

She worked in a shop as a milliner of corsets, learning English at the same time privately, and later attended lectures in psychology, and she developed a strong interest Yiddish literature and began to participate in a Yiddish chorus and in productions of amateur groups. After her divorce from her first husband, she in 1931 married actor Reuben Wendorf and began to act in the troupes in which he had arranged, such as the "Vilna Troupe", in the "Folksbiene" under the direction of Kadison, later with Abraham Littman and Misha Fishzon in Detroit, where they settled after a time. She returned again to New York, where she participated in English with a part of the "Group" Theatre as "Babushka" in "Anfisa" by Leonid Andreyev, and in Schwartz's "Yiddish Art Theatre" in small roles in "Yoshke Kalb", "The Wise Men of Chelm", "Three Cities" and "The Brothers Ashkenazi".

W. settled in Los Angeles, participating in Dr. Baratov's production

 of "A farvorfn vinkl (A Faraway Corner)", "Moshke khazir (Moshke the Swine)", and "Di kraft fun gelt (The Power of Money)" by Dymov, and in the guest-starring appearance of Schwartz's "(Yiddish) Art Theatre" in the "Mayan" Theatre (acting in the role of "Miriam" in "Sender Blank", "Sarah" in "Brider ashkhanazi (The Brothers Ashkenazi)", and later with Maurice Schwartz in English, in the "Civic Playhouse" as "Sarah" in Sholem Aleichem's "Shver tsu zayn a yid (Hard to be a Jew)" and "The Sister" in "Sender Blank's Family".

W. acts from time to time in Yiddish productions, but she is mostly dedicated to the theatre, film and television in English. So she acted in the Yiddish play, "Burning Bush" (director Walter Vikler), Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing", Jan Prisley's "Day Came to A City", in "All You Need is a Good Break", and "Money is Not All", in Shamir's Israeli play "Tukilometer", in the film "Now We Out(?)" (director John Mankovich), "Deep in my Heart" (with Jose Ferrer as the star), and "The Silver Chalice", and in television with "Medic", Dennis Day's comedies, Hitchcock's play, in NBC's matinees in the "Telephone Hour".

In 1957 W. performed in English in "Tuviya der milkhiger (Tevye the Dairyman), (role of "Golde") under the direction of producer Arnold Pearl, and later in the "Ring Theatre" in the play "My Kandido".

W. in 1958 visited the Land of Israel and performed in word concerts in Yiddish in twenty-five places in the country.

M. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2235.

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