Women of Valor



Molly Picon, 1898 - 1992

"I always said influenza was our matchmaker.... I was the all-American girl...and absolutely illiterate about Jewish culture. Yonkel on the other hand, was the complete intellectual who knew not only classic Yiddish, but its plays, theaters, and writers.... It was a funny situation. I was trying to make him a real American guy and he was trying to make me a Yiddishe Mama. But it was fun."

After six months on tour, The Four Seasons arrived in Boston to a city paralyzed by the influenza epidemic. The only theatre that remained open was the Boston Grand Opera House, which offered Yiddish Theater. Picon, looking for work, answered an advertisement for an ingenue placed by the director and producer Jacob "Yonkel" Kalich. He hired her on the spot and her "commitment to both Yonkel and the Yiddish Theater had begun." Picon looked up to Kalich, a Polish immigrant who had quit rabbinical school to join a traveling acting troupe. He was seven years her senior, better educated and more experienced. The two fell in love and got married on June 29, 1919.

  1. "Perhaps if I had..." Picon, Molly & Bergantini Grillo, Jean, Molly! (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980)30.
  2. "commitment to both Yonkel..." Picon, Molly & Bergantini Grillo, Jean, Molly! (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980)25.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Molly Picon - Marriage." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/picon/marriage>.