Kessler, David

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KESSLER, DAVID (1860–1920), Yiddish actor. He was one of the leading actor-managers of the New York Yiddish theater during its heyday early in the twentieth century. Born in Kishinev, at the age of 20 he joined the troupe of Judel Gold-faden (brother of Abraham Goldfaden) and together they toured the towns of south Russia. When Yiddish theater was prohibited by the czar in 1883, he toured with S. *Mogulesco in Romania, went to London in 1886, and to New York in 1890. There he acted under Jacob *Adler in Jacob Gordin's first play Siberia (1891), and soon made his name. He subsequently appeared in other plays by Gordin, enjoying great success in God, Man, and Devil. Others of his outstanding roles were in Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance, David Pinski's Yankel the Smith, and Leon Kobrin's Yankel Boile. In 1913 he established the David Kessler Theater, which ranked with Adler's and Thomashefsky's theaters, and produced many plays by the leading Yiddish writers.

[Joseph Leftwich]