Alexander Asro

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Alexander Asro
Alexanderasropromophoto.jpg
Born (1888-02-10)February 10, 1888
Died January 1963 (aged 74)

Alexander Asro (also: Aleksander Azro; February 10, 1888 – January 1963) was a film and theatre actor. He was a member of the Vilna Troupe and appeared in several comedic films in the United States.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Vilna, in the Russian Empire (today Vilnius, Lithuania), Asro attended a traditional Jewish elementary school (cheder), and early on gave 'circus' performances for other children together with his friend Jacob Lubotsky, the brother of Sonia Alomis (born Lubotsky),[1] Asro's future wife.[2]

He later joined the dramatic circles of the Jewish Labor Bund, making his first public appearance at the age of 13, in the role of Yehuda in the Biblical play Mechirat Yosef (The Sale of Joseph), in a production by older tradesmen. In this way he came to the attention of the actor Yehoshua Bertonov, who brought him into a group doing Russian vaudeville; he also participated in guest performances of Jacob Ben-Ami.[2]

As a 16-year-old Asro became active in the workers' movement. After being arrested and interned, he fled to Kiev, where he enrolled in the art school, studying painting, and simultaneously attended a middle school (Realschule), supported by a stipend from Baron Günzburg. In Kiev he took part in the Russian-language Solovtsov Theater,[2] which had become known for its dedication to artistic as well as commercial success;[3] he was at first an "extra", and then advanced to small roles. He subsequently spent three-quarters of a year studying in the law department at the Kiev commercial school (Handelsschule), then served for a year in the Russian military; after his discharge from the military he returned to Vilna.[2]

Vilna Troupe[edit]

In this period, around 1908,[4] he was active in a literary dramatic circle that had formed in Vilna, including Noah Nachbush, Chaim Shneur, Sonia Alomis, Rachel-Dora Rivkina, and Frieda Blumental; the group worked with Peretz Hirschbein, whose plays they performed and who was in Vilna at the time, and they traveled into the Lithuanian provinces giving performances.[2]

American years[edit]

Asro created the role of "Sasha Smirnoff" in the 1937 play Room Service, and reprised the role in both the 1938 Marx Brothers film of the same title,[5] and the 1953 Broadway revival.[6]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film
1937 Bashful Ballerina
1938 Room Service
1940 Comrade X

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zylberczweig, Zalmen (1934). "Alomis, S." In: Zylbercweig, with the assistance of Jacob Mestel, Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Lexicon of the Yiddish theatre]. Vol. 2. Warsaw. Columns 1571-1572.
  2. ^ a b c d e Zylberczweig, Zalmen (1931). "Azro, Aleksander" (Yiddish). In: Zylbercweig, with the assistance of Jacob Mestel, Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Lexicon of the Yiddish theatre]. Vol. 1. New York. Columns 46-48.
  3. ^ Fowler, Mayhill C. (2010). "'A Theatrical Mecca': The Stages of Kyiv in 1907." In: Irene R. Makaryk and Virlana Tkacz, Modernism in Kiev: Kyiv/Kyïv/Kiev/Kijów/Kiev: Jubuliant Experimentation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-4426-4098-6. p. 26-50; here: p. 30.
  4. ^ Zylberczweig, Zalmen (1934). "Nachbush, Noach" (Yiddish). In: Zylbercweig, with the assistance of Jacob Mestel, Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Lexicon of the Yiddish theatre]. Vol. 2. Warsaw. Column 1404. English translation at the Museum of Family History website: [1]; retrieved 2016-06-11.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Glen (2006). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. Revised and expanded edition. London: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-905287-11-9. p. 245, 248.
  6. ^ "'Room Service,' a 1937 Comedy by Murray and Boretz, Is Revived at Playhouse" (April 7, 1953). New York Times. "Alexander Asro, who was in the original 1937 cast of 'Room Service,' is back in the same role."