Thomashefsky explained to me what he should not play -- whether it
was a play by a famous
writer, or by a beginner -- and that he takes his theatrical playing
And it was indeed felt in his
performances, and it played a serious relationship with the public.
He performed very light operettas,
but he was jealous of Adler and Kessler, who played mostly Jacob
Gordin's plays. He appeared in Jacob Gordin's "Devorah'le
meyukheses (Devorile Mechaisis ]Proud Jewess])" and "Dovid'l
meshoyrer (David the Choir Singer)," and Leon Kobrin's "Tserisene
keytn (Broken Chains)."
Leon Korbin wanted to follow the
path of Jacob Gordin. As Gordin did, he didn't believe in
including couplets in plays.
It was told that one time Kobrin
=heard that the comic [Berl] Bernstein sang a song in his play, and
after the performance he went into the dressing room and shouted
-- What is this, you
have attached a couplet to my play!
Bernstein shouted back to the
-- Why did I attach a play to my
Thomashefsky was very handsome,
and Jacob Adler also was handsome. But the difference between
them was that Thomashefsky was screaming, even if his attire was
screaming with all kinds of colors. Jacob Adler kept himself
solid, personally and also in his clothes. He was seen as a
banker or an ambassador.
MY VISIT WITH ADLER
A short time after I arrived to
America I visited Jacob P. Adler. I brought greetings from the
two great Russian actors, the Shein brothers. It was very
important to him; firstly, because I can speak Russian;
secondly, because of the greetings from the famous Russian
He invited me to travel with him
to Hartford [Connecticut]. Inasmuch as he was traveling with
his company to appear in a production there, I should travel
with him. I accepted the invitation.
When we arrived in Hartford he
invited me to a Jewish restaurant, where the entire company was
to be found.
The entire company sat together at
a long table.
Adler introduced me to the owner
of the restaurant as the young musician. The owner of the
restaurant heard the word "musician." He gave him a hug and
shouted out: Perhaps the musician will do something for my
daughter? And he said further: She works very hard in the
restaurant, poor thing, but I do not ask anything for myself for
a minute; but she sings; she bangs my head with her singing. I
am not an expert on it. Perhaps she really can sing.
And soon indeed there arrived a
young and powerful woman.
-- This is a Russian musician, and
this is my Sophia, said the father.
-- She soon indeed sing an
American song with a powerful, old voice. It was very pleasing
She brought a plate of borscht for
a customer and sang.
Before the father had explained to me
that his daughter is so present in singing that she does not do
her work. They call her to bring soup, and she brings meat. I
know, perhaps, that she was created to sing, and I made her a
waitress. And perhaps she will not sing at all and will turn her
head in vain.
I invited her once to sing. She
did it gladly and it made only a strong impression on me.
Some time later the waitress was
heard singing in the Palace Theatre on Broadway. She was
announced with large letters as the sensational American
balladeer, Sophie Tucker. Her maiden name was Abuza. The
restaurant in Hartford indeed was called Abuza's Restaurant.
Sophie Tucker sang and played in
the largest vaudeville houses. She has already sung for a couple
of American presidents, and also for kings.
Now, after some forty-plus years
of performing, they announce her not as the young, American
balladeer, but as "The Last of the [Red-] Hot Mamas."