A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

Crossover Stars

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Crossover Stars


Since its beginnings, the modern Yiddish theater generated "crossover actors," men and women who moved (in both directions) between the Yiddish-language stage and stages of other language. In the United States, however, the movement of Yiddish actors flowed almost always from Yiddish to English: that is, from the Yiddish theater into successful careers on the English-language stage or into Hollywood movies. Perhaps the most important crossover success story was the actor-director-and acting theoretician Stella Adler, who shares a name with Yiddish theater star and pioneer, Jacob Adler that became even more famous for her acting studio. Others include Ida Kaminska and Molly Picon, and, pictured here, Paul Muni and Bertha Kalisch. While the shift of Yidish theater's greatest talent to the English stage was most visible, this crossover movement took place on every stratum, in every area of expertise. The Yiddish theater generated talent for which it had less and less of an audience. Even as the Yiddish theater declined, it experienced a kind of success as a shaper of mainstream English-language entertainment culture.


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“Crossover Stars,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed February 28, 2024, https://ataleoftwomuseums.yivo.org/items/show/2919.
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