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Performing Arts: Theater

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Celia Adler

Celia Adler

Celia Adler’s popularity as a Yiddish actor made her a force in the Yiddish art theater movement, where she succeeded despite her lack of a powerful male protector. She was acclaimed for her ability to combine pathos and charm, and those who witnessed her performances especially remember her talent for comedy.

Sara Adler

Sara Adler

Although her reputation as an artist must have benefited from the association with her husband, Jacob P. Adler, Sara Adler was an admired actor and a strong presence on the Yiddish stage.

Stella Adler

Stella Adler

At Stella Adler’s death in 1992, Robert Brustein wrote in The New Republic, “Stella Adler’s death … represents a major loss in the pantheon of theater greats. Through the strength of her convictions, the integrity of her character, and the brilliance of her mind, Adler embodied the art of the dramatic profession and remained an influential figure throughout a career that spanned most of the century.”

Gila Almagor

Gila Almagor

She has appeared in approximately forty Israeli feature films, dozens of stage plays and television dramas. Her starring roles in films include Siege, 1969; Highway Queen, 1971; House on Chelouche Street, 1973; My Mother the General, 1979; Summer of Aviya, 1988; Life According to Agfa, 1992; Sh’chur, 1994; and Passover Fever, 1995.

Anna Appel

Anna (Khane) Appel, a highly acclaimed character actor, straddled the Yiddish- and English-language worlds of theater, film, and television. Excelling in both comic and dramatic roles, she was especially acclaimed for the versatility of her mimic art. A tall woman with an expressive round face, Appel became noted for her mother roles.

Bea Arthur, 1987

Bea Arthur

Arthur will probably always be best known for portraying liberal Maude Findlay, the “women’s libber” who stuck it to Archie Bunker on television’s All in the Family and then dominated her own situation comedy, Maude, throughout the 1970s. Arthur’s imperious and controversial Maude left a lasting imprint on American television and feminism.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall’s 1944 Hollywood debut in To Have and Have Not catapulted this young Jewish actress into instant stardom. Costarring with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart, Bacall soon became known for “The Look”—downturned head, eyes looking up, suggestive of a young woman sexually wise beyond her years. She and Bogart were one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, both on screen and off, and Bacall was famous for her characterizations of women whose strong will complemented, rather than detracted from, their sexual attraction.

Cora Baird and Bill Baird

Cora Baird

Cora Baird was half of the world-renowned Bil & Cora Baird Marionettes.

bELLE bAKER

Belle Baker

Belle Baker has been described as a famed torch singer and vaudeville star, as well as a Yiddish, Broadway, and motion picture actor.

Theda Bara, 1915

Theda Bara

Long before Mae West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlowe, and Madonna vamped their way across the silver screen, there was Theda Bara—the original celluloid “vamp.”

Michal Bat-Adam

Michal Bat-Adam

Winner of several Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress awards from the Israel Institute of Cinema, the multi-talented Michal Bat Adam was the first Israeli woman to direct a feature film.

Shulamith Bat-Dori, 1930

Shulamit Bat-Dori

Upon her arrival in Palestine in 1923, nineteen-year-old Mita Gutgeld tried her hand at house plastering, tractor driving—and writing plays. As Shulamith Bat Dori, she pioneered the kibbutz theater and staged major theatrical performances which, at the beginning of the 1950s, were attended by ten percent of the country’s population.

Nora Bayes and her Children Aboard the S.S. Leviathan, 1924

Nora Bayes

Nora Bayes was an international singing star in vaudeville and musical comedy during the first twenty-five years of the twentieth century. Known as a willful and temperamental star, Bayes relied on her own charisma and popularity as she resisted managerial control and ignored the details of legal contracts.

Elisabeth Bergner, 1935

Elisabeth Bergner

One of the most successful and popular stage and screen actresses in pre-World War II Germany, “die Bergner,” as she was known, was born on August 22, 1897 in Drobycz, Austrian Galicia, to a merchant, Emil Ettel (d. 1934) and Anna Rosa (née Wagner).

Gail Berman

An exception in the entertainment industry, which is dominated by brash individuals in their twenties and thirties, Berman is a thoughtful fortyish mother of twins, best known for her work on Broadway and for bringing positive portrayals of women to television. She is also an entertainment executive renowned for bringing stability to desperately unstable situations.

Sarah Bernhardt, 1880

Sarah Bernhardt

The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, named by her fans the “Divine Sarah,” is recognized as the first international stage star.

Aline Bernstein by Carl Van Vechten, February 26, 1933

Aline Bernstein

In the world of theater, Aline Bernstein is remembered as one of the most important designers of the first half of the twentieth century.

Miriam Bernstein-Cohen

Miriam Bernstein-Cohen

Miriam Bernstein-Cohen, actor, director, poet and translator, was born in Kishinev in 1895.

Glika Bilavsky

As an actor on the Yiddish stage, Glika (Degenshteyn) Bilavsky participated early on in the renaissance of secular Yiddish culture in the twentieth century.

Anita Block

Anita Block helped to found one of the first socialist newspapers in the United States, the New York Call, serving as the editor of its women’s page and as its drama critic from 1903 until 1923, when the paper closed during the antiradical, anti-immigrant sentiment following World War I.

Joan Blondell

Joan Blondell

A beautiful and accomplished stage and screen actress, Blondell was born on August 30, 1906 (some accounts say 1909) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Claire Bloom

Claire Bloom

Since her first film role in Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight literally propelled her into the limelight, Claire Bloom has been one of the most iconic and popular actresses of her generation.

Helen Abrahams Blum

Artist and community activist Helen Abrahams Blum was born August 17, 1886, in Philadelphia to Simon and Theresa Abrahams.

Yara Bernette (Bernette Epstein)

Brazil, Contemporary

The Brazilian Jewish community is the second largest Jewish community in South America and one of the ten largest in the world.

Fanny Brice

Fanny Brice

One of America’s great clowns, Fanny Brice built her career on a Yiddish accent and a flair for zany parody.

 

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