New York (Apr. 5)
— Herman Yablokoff, the Yiddish actor whose plays and songs delighted generations of audiences in the Yiddish theaters on Second Avenue on the Lower East Side during the 1930s and 1940s, died here last Friday at the age of 77. Yablokoff, who wrote, produced and directed many of the plays in which he appeared, had the gift for being equally at home in drama, comedy, and soap opera, frequently shifting from one to the other in quick succession in the some play.
Sometimes, at the height of a five-handkerchief dramatic scene, he would ask the audience for advice on what song he should sing to express the dramatic moment. After listening to numerous suggestions he would ignore them all and break into the song that had, all along, been composed for the occasion.
Born in Grodno, Poland, Yablokoff came to this country in 1924 and settled in New York. Among the extravaganzas he wrote were “Der Payatz” (“The Clown); “The King of Song”; “Goldela Dem Bakers”; and “Mein Veise Blum. ” He was in the Yiddish theater for more than 55 years, having begun playing children’s roles at the age of 12.
Yablokoff did not limit his activities to the American Yiddish stage. He travelled extensively abroad and during a seven-month tour of 94 refugee camps in Germany, Austria and Italy in 1947 he gave 104 performances for 180,000 Jewish refugees, for which he received the United States Army Certificate of Merit.
Yablokoff was president of the Hebrew Actors Union, a post he held for numerous terms between 1945 and his death. The union, affiliated with the Associated Actors and Artists of America, was founded in 1900. He was also president of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance. He also wrote and published his two-volume memoirs, “Around the World With Yiddish Theater, ” which won him the 1970 Zvi Kesel Prize for Yiddish literature.