Molly Picon, 1898 - 1992
"Yonkele was our Peter Pan and always was a joy for me to do. Deep, deep down within me, I was Yonkele. I still am!"
In the early 1920's Picon's career took off. At 4'11", weighing less than 100 pounds, she created a unique presence on the Yiddish stage. Playing parts written for her by her husband, Picon was cast almost exclusively as young girls who either dressed or behaved like insouciant young boys. Audiences loved the transgressive behavior that became signature Molly Picon. Between 1921 and 1925, she created some of her most famous stage roles in plays such as Yonkele (Little Yonkel), Tzipke, Shmendrik (Loser), Gypsy Girl, Molly Dolly, Little Devil, Mamale (Mommy), Raizele, Oy is Dus A Madel (What a Girl), and The Circus Girl. Picon would return to many of these roles later in her career. Often exaggerating that she played Yonkele—the story of a little boy who desperately wants to make this world a better place—"more than three thousand times." Picon identified strongly with many of the roles she played on stage.
- "Yonkele was our Peter Pan..." Picon, Molly & Bergantini Grillo, Jean, Molly! (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980) 183.
- "more than three thousand times..." Picon, Molly & Bergantini Grillo, Jean, Molly! (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980) 36.