Yetta Zwerling

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Yetta Zwerling Silverman
Born Yetta Zwerling
(1894-12-25)December 25, 1894
Lviv, Ukraine
Died January 17, 1982(1982-01-17) (aged 87)
Cedar-Sinai Hospital
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actress

Yetta Zwerling Silverman (December 25, 1894 – January 17, 1982) was a Yiddish movie star during the 1930s and 1940s.

Early life[edit]

Yetta Zwerling was born in Kalievo, near Lemberg, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (present-day Choliv, near Lviv, Ukraine). Her father had a fruit business and was also a klezmer. Her sisters Bessie and Mamie sang in the Yiddish theater chorus and brought Yetta in as well.[1]

She emigrated to the United States with her family, finishing high school there and playing juvenile roles in variety theaters and English-language vaudeville. During her vaudeville years she also sang Yiddish songs like Vu Bistu, Yukel? and Bei Mir Bist du Schoen.[2]


Her first "legitimate role" in Yiddish theatre was as Hanele in Zolotarevsky's Yeshiva Bokher (Schoolboy). She toured and ended up in New York, playing Yiddish vaudeville with Sam Klinetsky at the Grand Theater, then doing four years of English-language comedy with Leon Errol and then six seasons in Philadelphia with Anshel Shor, who improved her Yiddish and gave her the opportunity to play the soubrette opposite Leon Blank, Celia Adler, Sam Kestin, Dayna Feynman, Samuel Goldenberg and Boris Thomashevsky. She then played at the National Theater in Student Prince and with Bertha Kalich in Di neshomeh fun a froy (The Soul of a Woman).[1]

She played alongside Yitskhok Feld, Julius Nathanson, Eli Mintz, Isidore Meltzer, Adof Fenigshtayn, Irving Jacobson, later Menasha Skulnik and Leo Fuchs in Yiddish movies such as Motl der opereytor and Ikh vil zayn a mame.[3] Beyond her comic roles, she sang as a soloist and in duets with her partners. She was also noted for her eccentric outfits and jewels.


In 1982, Yetta Silverman died at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. She was survived by her two sons, Sidney and Arthur Silverman.[2][4] She was interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.


  1. ^ a b Zalmen Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn teater, Book 3, #2276
  2. ^ a b "Yetta Zwerling obituary". New York Times. January 19, 1982. 
  3. ^ Di Eybike Mame - The Eternal Mother - Women in Yiddish Theater and Popular Song 1905–1929 - ausführliche Textversion/extended text version, Rubin
  4. ^ New York Times gave her age at death as 93; however her death certificate and Social Security records give her date of birth as December 25, 1894.