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Yiddish Theater Star & Film Actor, Iriving Jacobson, is Born

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

On This Day in Jewish History: June 18, 1898

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Irving Jacobson was born on this day in 1898 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The child of two actors, Joseph and Bessie Jacobson, he would continue in the family’s theatrical tradition alongside his older brother Hymie. His sister, Henrietta Jacobson, was also in the Yiddish Theater and was married to the actor Julius Adler. Irving’s career started early as a member of the company headed by Pinkhas Thomashefsky. He toured Europe in his early thirties. Irving collaborated with Hymie, a composer and lyricist, on humorous songs, most notably “A Bisl Fefer, A Bisl Zalts” ( “A Little Pepper, A Little Salt”) and performed comedy in Yiddish Vaudeville as the character Schnitz’l Putz’l. Although as Schnitz’l Put’l, Jacobson played the clown, he was, according to Shirley Schachter Katz,, who performed with the brothers, “the business end of the whole organization.” In an interview with the Yiddish Book Center, she describes Hymie as the artistic talent and Irving as “chubby and smart.” But Irving was far more than a businessman. He could sing, albeit in a high pitched nasal voice, and he could be light on his feet despite his chubbiness. In the 1940 Yiddish film Eli, Eli, he puts both talents on display as he woos his sweetheart with a song about love being the same in any language—Galitzianer or Litvak. The film co-starred Jacobson’s wife, Mae Schoenfeld, herself an actress in New York’s Yiddish Theater who had begun acting at the age of three. Irving and Hymie Jacobson owned two important theaters—the National and the Second Avenue—in the Yiddish Theater District in New York. Jacobson’s career highlights extend beyond Yiddish film and theater. He played Sancho Panza in the original production of Man of La Mancha. Irving Jacobson died on December 17, 1978 and is buried in the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York where a special section is devoted to those who had worked in the Yiddish Theater.

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Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8dH-TEQjTQ https://www.nytimes.com/1978/03/30/archives/mae-schoenfeld-jacobson-72-actress-in-the-yiddish-theater.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Jacobson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeqZyoT7eyI



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