Morris Waxman (1876-1931) was a Yiddish actor, active in England and the USA.
He was born in Lodz, in Poland, and went to London with his parents when he was 15, his father occupying a post as Cantor in the Blashke Synagogue in London for 25 years. His grandfather, Rabbi Jacob Waxman, was Rabbi of Blashke.
As a boy in Poland he had already played in amateur Yiddish theatricals, so in London, he and his sister, Fanny Waxman, who also became a well-known Yiddish actress, joined the choir of the Yiddish Theatre, where they were also given small acting parts. He toured for a time and when he returned to London in 1896 he played with Kessler, Feinman, Magulesco, and other famous Yiddish actors. He was invited to go to America and there he played with Jacob Adler in New York and in many other American cities. He was in London again a few years later, and then went to South Africa where he played in English productions for a while.
In 1906 Waxman started the London Yiddish Theatre at the Pavilion in Whitechapel, and he was one of the founders of the Company which was formed to establish a permanent Yiddish Art Theatre, in London, which became the Feinman Yiddish People’s Art Theatre.
He played in London many times after that, between tours in the Argentine and the various countries in Eastern Europe. In 1920, after playing a season at the Pavilion Theatre in London and appearing at the Court Theatre in The Priest and the Jew, he returned to America and continued touring the country, mostly in English plays on Jewish themes.
He died in Los Angeles of heart failure on November 6, 1931.
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
He came to South Africa in 1901 as the leader of a company of Yiddish artists, a company referred to as Hebrew artistes (or "Waxman's Hebrew Company") by D.C. Boonzaier, 1923, who had got to know Waxman and saw them perform in Cape Town during 1901.
They did a number of English plays in the Oddfellows Hall, among them The Somnabulist (Moncrieff), Bar Rochba (probably Bar Kokhba by Landau) and The Jews of Madrid (Anon.).
"Death of Morris Waxman Famous Yiddish Actor: Was Well-known Figure in London", Jewish Telegraphic Agency Archive
D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)
F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 408
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