Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.
The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.
Who was Molly Picon?
She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).
Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.
Aaron Lebedeff was a Yiddish theater super star whose popularity among Jews during the 1920s and 1930s made his name a household word. More than 80 years before performers could go viral on the internet, Lebedeff was making a name for himself by driving audiences wild with his energetic and exuberant live performances. He was a super-star, like Mick Jagger, who was able to excite audiences and leave them wanting more.
His devil-may-care free spirit, love of life and allusions to sensual delights helped to create his exciting persona. Whether dressed in traditional Russian garb and boots or formal attire with straw hat and cane, his dynamic presence always kept him the center of attention. He understood nostalgia for the shtetl and was able use it to rouse his audiences’ emotions. His best known recording,Roumania, Roumania, was originally released in 1925. His second version, recorded with Sholem Secunda and Dave Tarras in 1941, became a best-selling Yiddish recording during the 1940s and still brings a smile to almost everyone who hears it!
Because the JSA has received more copies of this recording than any other single 78 rpm disc, we regularly play it on our vintage 1924 Victrola for guests who visit us at FAU’s Wimberly Library in Boca Raton, FL.
Hot Dogs and Knishes! is a comic ditty with a catchy chorus that even includes a barking dog. Hot dogs and knishes, romance and Coney Island ….. you can almost smell the nostalgia. Lebedeff’s output of records was prolific. He recorded for Emerson, Brunswick, and Vocalion.
Born in Homel, White Russia, in 1873, Lebedeff made his NYC debut in October 1920 at Thomashevsky’s National Theater, located at Second Avenue and Houston Street on New York’s Lower East Side. He was an instant sensation! His success and popularity grew throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During the 1940s and into the 1950s his career continued to thrive though revivals. He continued to perform until his death in 1960.
The Judaica Sound Archives has created this special Lebedeff online collection just for you! It contains three LPs produced by Collectors Guild and ten songs recorded on 78rpm which are in the public domain. Users of the Judaica Sound Archives Scholars Research Station have access to 186 songs on 78 rpm discs and 12 LP albums.
If you would like to donate your recordings by Aaron Lebedeff or any other Jewish performer to the JSA, please click here.
Click here to listen to songs in the JSA online collection by Aaron Lebedeff.
Now you can revisit the glory days of the Lower East Side and hear the songs as they were actually sung.
The recordings in this special JSA collection were produced on 78 rpm recordings between 1901 and 1922, at the height of Yiddish Theater’s popularity.
Four stars of Yiddish Musical Comedy are highlighted: Gus Goldstein, Clara Gold, Anna Hoffman and Jacob Jacobs.
Gus Goldstein, an American Yiddish actor of the early 20th century made many recordings for Columbia Records. This JSA collection features 37 of his solo songs.
He also made recordings with Clara Gold that focused on immigrant issues and Yiddish humor, and featuring Litvak, Galitzianer and Italian dialects. Clara Gold played character roles in the Yiddish Theater and was known for her comedic performances. She partnered with Gus Goldstein from 1916 to 1926. Forty-four of the songs they recorded together are in this collection.
Jacob Jacobs was known for adding timely dialogue to his Yiddish comedy acts and translating English songs into Yiddish. This collection includes 12 of his songs recorded between 1909 and 1922. An interesting historical note is that in 1932 he collaborated with composer Sholom Secunda on a Yiddish musical comedy, “I Would If I Could.” Although the show was not a great success it did produce a song that would later become the #1 hit, Bei Mir Bist du Shon.
If you understand Yiddish, remember Yiddish Theater, or just want a nostalgic journey, you won’t be disappointed. Click here to listen to any of the 14 digitized albums in the collection.
Where has all the Jewish music gone? Ever wondered what happened to all the Jewish music of days gone by? Voices of the great cantors of the past. Music from Yiddish theater. The Judaica Sound Archives may not have all the old Jewish music, but with tens of thousands of audio recordings it is well on its way.
The Judaica Sound Archives – Research Station (JSA-RS) was developed at FAU Libraries to provide a digital resource of recorded sound, containing tens of thousands of audio tracks from the archival collection of the JSA. The original source materials available through the JSA Research Station are 78 rpm recordings produced as early as 1901, LPs, 45 rpm recordings, cassette and 8-track tapes, and CDs.
Along with this wealth of audio recordings, JSA Research Stations allow access to discography and other pertinent information such as label and jacket scans which will greatly enhance a researcher’s ability to study this material. This includes the ability to search for and see listings of all recordings in the JSA archives, whether or not they have been digitized. Therefore, faculty and other researchers can conduct real-time, online research using the JSA-Research Station. Currently the JSA-Research Station accesses 19,000 songs from 2,000 different audio albums and 2,322 songs originally recorded on 78rpm. This library will be expanded throughout the coming year.
There are now 13 official JSA-Research Station sites in the USA, Canada, Israel and England. They are: