Gersten, Berta

views updated


GERSTEN, BERTA (1897–1972), Yiddish actress. Born in Cracow, Poland, Gersten started her career in the U.S., in 1908, playing a boy in J. Gordin's Mirele Efros. In 1918 she joined Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theater and remained with Schwartz for 25 years, performing leading roles in New York and on tour, frequently playing opposite Jacob Ben-Ami. She appeared in Yiddish films, among them Yiskor (1933), The Jester (1937), Mirele Efros (1938), A Letter to Mother (1938), and God, Man and Devil (1950). She also played Benny Good-man's mother, Dora, in the 1955 English-language film The Benny Goodman Story. Gersten performed on Broadway in The World of Sholem Aleichem (1954), The Flowering Peach (1955), A Majority of One (1959), and Sophie (1963). Her final appearance was in 1971 at the Folksbiene Playhouse in New York, playing opposite her lifelong friend and colleague Ben-Ami in My Father's Court.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]