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Acting

Libby Holman

“I always have to break a song over my back. … I just can’t sing a song; it has to be part of my marrow and bones and everything,” Libby Holman explained in a 1966 interview. Daring, dark, and impetuous, Holman led a rich public life that touched a dizzying array of people, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Montgomery Clift, from Alice B. Toklas to Jane Bowles. A musical and sexual revolutionary from the 1920s to the 1960s, Holman succeeded at two different musical careers. Known as the “Statue of Libby,” she carried one of the smokiest torches of American music hall society in the 1920s and 1930s, and was the inventor of the strapless evening dress. From a deep sense of personal commitment, she later made significant contributions to the civil rights movement as both an artist and a wealthy benefactor. However, murder, millionaires, death, and suicide were morbid recurring themes in Libby Holman’s life, reaching tabloid proportions.

Nechama Hendel

Nechama Hendel was born on August 22, 1936 in Jerusalem, where her family lived in the upper-middle-class district of Rehavia. Both parents immigrated to Palestine from Poland. Her father, Michael Hendel (1899–1965), was born in Bolochow (Bolokhuv) and her mother, Chana Foyerstein (1900–1986), was born in Warsaw. Her father served for many years as chief inspector of history at the Israel Ministry of Education. Her older sister, Tamar Gadot, was born in 1934.

Anna Held

The date and place of Anna Held’s birth are shrouded in mystery, confusion or vanity. They range from March 18, 1865, in Warsaw, Poland, to 1878 in Paris, France, a thirteen-year difference. That she was born in Warsaw on March 18, 1873, may be most accurate. Held was the youngest and only survivor of eleven children. Her parents were Maurice (or Shimmle), a glovemaker, and Yvonne (or Helene) Pierre. Some sources suggest that both her parents were Jewish, while one source states that her mother was Catholic.

Theresa Helburn

Theresa Helburn was born on January 12, 1887, in New York City, the younger of two children of Hannah (Peyser) and Julius Helburn. Her father was a leather merchant; her mother, who became Helburn’s role model, established her own experimental elementary school. An assimilated Jew, Helburn attended Horace Mann, the fashionable Windsor School in Boston, and Bryn Mawr College. She graduated in 1908 with many senior prizes, having organized, directed, and acted in all the school plays. She continued her education at Radcliffe College, in George Pierce Baker’s celebrated playwriting workshop, English 47, and at the Sorbonne. She joined the Poetry Society of America, created a course in Shakespearean acting at Miss Merrill’s Finishing School, Mamaroneck, New York, and wrote drama criticism for The Nation.

Hebrew Theater: Yishuv to the Present

From its beginnings early in the twentieth century, Hebrew theater was the province of men. With the exception of a few trailblazers such as Miriam Bernstein-Cohen, who translated and produced plays, it was not until the 1980s that women writers and directors began to work in the Israeli theater. Of all the theatrical professions, only actresses had truly been partners in the enterprise of reviving Hebrew culture. It is therefore appropriate to begin with several of the most important of these and to go on from there to playwrights and directors.

Hebrew Drama: Representation of Women

Since its beginnings in the 1920s, Hebrew theater has been perceived by its audiences as a “high” cultural activity, and the topics it chooses to present have often prompted public controversy and debate. However, what has generally been ignored is the fact that prior to the 1980s there was an almost total absence of women-related topics and women’s voices in Hebrew theater.

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, a popular and highly acclaimed author, brought a generous embrace and a well-honed theatrical sensibility to her short stories, sketches and portraits. She moved her characters and readers from the pious, rooted intimacy of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:404]shtetl[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] to the fragmented, often despairing experience of America.

Nan Halperin

Nan Halperin was born in Odessa, Russia, in 1898 and moved to the United States in 1900. She was the daughter of Samuel Halperin, a confectioner, and Rebeka Rose Halperin. She had two brothers—Hal Halperin, manager of the Chicago office of Variety, and Max Halperin, a Chicago agent—and two sisters—Sophie Halperin, who sometimes accompanied Nan on her tours, and Clara Halperin.

Vera Gordon

After her star-making turn in the 1920 film Humoresque, actor Vera Gordon came to represent the archetypical Jewish mother, both on-screen and off. She played mother roles in almost thirty films, including The Millionaires (1926), Four Walls (1928), and the successful The Cohens and the Kellys series.

Jennie Goldstein

Jennie Goldstein was one of the foremost Yiddish theater tragediennes, beloved by the public and acclaimed by critics for her ability to make audiences cry and for her outstanding voice.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Acting." (Viewed on February 28, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/acting>.

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