Latteiner, Joseph

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LATTEINER, JOSEPH (Finkelstein ; 1853–1935), Yiddish playwright. Born in Jassy, Romania, he met Abraham *Goldfaden in 1876 and became interested in the Yiddish theater. He worked as prompter for Goldfaden's troupe, for which he also composed and adapted several plays. His first play Di Tsvey Shmuel Shmelkes ("The Two Shmuel Shmelkes," 1879) preceded Goldfaden's similar but more popular comedy Di Tsvey Kuni-Leml ("The Two Kuni Lemls"). Latteiner's more successful play Yente Pipernuter (1877) starred the actor Sigmund *Mogulesco in the main role. Other plays followed in rapid succession, including the operetta Di Libe fun Yerushalayim ("The Love of Jerusalem"), based on Abraham *Mapu's novel Ahavat Ẓiyyon ("Love of Zion"). Dissatisfied with Gold-faden's repertoire, he left the troupe and formed his own with Mogulesco, moving to Odessa around the same time as Goldfaden did, leading to the competition of the two troupes in 1880. Since Yiddish plays were banned in Russia after the assassination of Alexander ii, Latteiner immigrated to London in 1883 and to New York in 1884. Initially he selected biblical subjects such as the stories of Esther or Joseph but soon turned to foreign sources, often merely judaizing characters' names and adding lyrics and slapstick humor. He wrote more than 80 plays, of which at least a dozen retained their popularity until World War ii.


B. Gorin, Geshikhte fun Yidishn Teater, 2 (1918), 73–82; lynl, 4 (1961), 414–7; Z. Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidisher Teater, 2 (1934), 964–90.

[Sol Liptzin /

Marc Miller (2nd ed.)]