Leo Fuchs

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Fuchs preparing for a role in 1949.

Leo Fuchs (May 15, 1911 – December 31, 1994) was a Polish-born Jewish American actor. According to YIVO, born Avrum Leib Fuchs in Warsaw;[1] according to Schechter, born in Lwów, Galicia, then Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine).[2]

Fuchs performed in many Yiddish and English plays and movies throughout the mid-twentieth century, and was famed as a comic, a dancer, and a coupletist. He wrote much of his own material and toured widely.

Early life[edit]

Fuchs was born into a Yiddish theatrical family: his father, Yakov Fuchs, was a character actor; his mother, Róża Fuchs (Ruzha Fuchs),[3] was "a leading lady of the musical theatre who perished in the Holocaust."[4] He began acting (in Polish) when he was five years old, and was praised when he performed at the Warsaw cabaret Qui Pro Quo when he was 17.[5]

Career[edit]

His American debut was at the Second Avenue Theater in the Yiddish Theater District in Lucky Boy with Moishe Oysher in 1929.[6] He moved to New York City in 1935,[1] In his prime, he was known as "The Yiddish Fred Astaire",[7][8] appearing both on Broadway and in film. In 1936, he married fellow actor Mirele Gruber and toured with her through Poland for a year next year. In 1937 he made two movies, the short I Want to Be a Boarder (in which he sang his famous song Trouble) and I Want to Be a Mother with Yetta Zwerling. In 1940 he starred in Americaner Shadchen (American Matchmaker).[9] He divorced in 1941[6] and later married Rebecca Richman.

Starting in the 1960s, Fuchs performed in English-language films, plays, and television.[1] Two of his best-known roles later in life included Hymie Krichinsky in the film Avalon[2] and the doomed Herr Shultz in the original Broadway production of Cabaret, opposite Lotte Lenya. He died in Los Angeles in 1994.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Leo Fuchs papers at YIVO archives
  2. ^ a b Schechter, p. 80.
  3. ^ Zalmen Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn teater, Book five, 4053
  4. ^ "Save the Music bio: Leo Fuchs". Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  5. ^ Joel Schechter: Messiahs of 1933: how American Yiddish theatre He ate his own leg and became a goat through satire
  6. ^ a b Leo Fuchs: Born Laybl Springer in Lemberg. Caraid O'Brien, 2nd Avenue site. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  7. ^ Lugowski, p. 63.
  8. ^ Friedman, p. 36.
  9. ^ Leo Fuchs bio at IMDb. Retrieved May 26, 2015.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Friedman, Jonathan C. Rainbow Jews: Jewish and Gay Identity in the Performing Arts. Plymouth, UK: Lexington, 2007.
  • Lugowski, David. "'Pintele' Queer: The Performance of Jewish Male Heterosexuality in Yiddish American Cinema of the Great Depression." In Griffin, Sean. Hetero: Queering Representations of Straightness. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009. 53-70.
  • Schechter, Joel. Messiahs of 1933: How American Yiddish Theatre Survived Adversity through Satire. Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2008.

External links[edit]