Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Celia Adler Forman Dead at 89

February 5, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Services were held yesterday for Celia Adler Forman, “the first lady of the Yiddish theater.” She died last Wednesday after a stroke suffered at the Hebrew Home for the aged in the Bronx. She was 89 years old. She was the daughter of Dina Stettin, a British actress, and Jacob Adler, the Yiddish tragedian who founded a theatrical dynasty which included Stella, Luther and Jay Adler.

First appearing on stage at the age of six months, carried in the arms of her mother, Mrs. Forman won her first success 25 years later as an actress in Ossip Dymou’s “The Eternal Wanderer” at Boris Thomashevsky’s National Theater in Manhattan.

In 1918 she helped open the first Yiddish Art Theater in New York, putting on plays by Jewish playwrights and translations from the English, Russian and German stage. In addition, she appeared in Yiddish productions of Shakespearian tragedies in the roles of Ophelia, Desdemona and Portia, among others. She played in almost every European capital and was haited for performances in English-language plays, such as “Men in White” and “A Flag is Born.”

In addition to a theatrical career, Mrs. Forman wrote the two-volume “The Yiddish Theater in America, published in 1960 by the Forward Publishing Company. The study outlined the birth and developments of the Yiddish theater developed by her father some 80 years earlier.

Recommended from JTA