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Elihu Tenenholtz
Birth Date
February 17, 1890
Birth Place
Ozeryany, Voliner, Ukraine
Death Date
July 1, 1971
Death Place
Los Aggeles, CA, USA

Elihu Tenenholtz  Biography

Elihu “Elye” Tenenholtz was born in the Russian hamlet of Azran, near the city of Rovne, in 1887 and came to the US at the age of ten. His first appearance in amateur Yiddish theatricals occurred in 1903, in staged readings of the works of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem, the first person to do that. He augmented his theater appearances by writing for and editing a Yiddish satirical magazine under the pen-name “Moishe McCarthy”. In 1916 he made the leap to the professional Yiddish stage and, befriended by the great doyenne Bessie Thomashevsky, helped her pen her memoirs, the first publication documenting a Yiddish actor’s life. By 1920 he was appearing on both the Yiddish art stage with Maurice Schwartz and on Broadway, quickly rising to the top leadership of the Hebrew Actors’ Union, the first arts union in America. In 1925 he co-founded a theater company with Celia Adler, half-sister of Luther Adler and “Method” teacher Stella Adler. In 1926 he was summoned to Hollywood and given a five-year contract at MGM. Like most Jewish actors, when he arrived in Hollywood he changed his name (choosing to bifurcate it into “Tenen Holtz”). During that time he regularly appeared in films alongside such stars as Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and Marion Davies and under directors like King Vidor and Victor Fleming. This period would prove to be Tenenholtz’s most prolific and would account for the majority of the 50+ films in which he would appear.

While in Hollywood he helped jump start its fledgling Yiddish theater, founding a popular Yiddish theater company that included other transplanted Yiddish actors including Muni Weisenfreund (aka Paul Muni, father and son Rudolph Schildkraut and Joseph Schildkraut. When his contract at MGM ended, he moved over to Warner Brothers where he made films with Leslie Howard under the direction of Michael Curtiz. By the late 1930s the only calls he got were from Poverty Row studios, so Tenenholtz moved to nearby Monrovia and opened a chicken ranch. Though he would occasionally go back in front of the camera, he retired from film. By the time TV emerged, he landed a few roles on shows such as Perry Mason (1957) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955). He died in 1971.

8 thoughts on “Four Divine States of Mind”

  1. I am reaching out to you on behalf of Saiph Stars, a non-profit organization developed for children battling illnesses, providing them with resources such as videos, songs, games, magazines, etc. to entertain and inspire them while undergoing treatments during their long hospitalizations.
    BH, we have a wide range of performers, singers, storytellers such as Yakov Shwekey, Mordechai Shapiro, Ari Goldwag, Baruch Levine, YBC, Uri Davidi, Rabbi Ashear, Rabbi Lish, Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, Rabbi Erps, Rebbee Hill, Rabbi Pesach Krohn, and many more who have joined our project by allowing us to use their material. In addition, subscriptions such as Mishpacha, Binah, The Circle, Spotlight, JWOW have all joined our project as well BH. All the material will be uploaded to locked iPads and is streamed thru the Saiph Stars App designated to be used by these children.
    We would love to include your material as it would mean a lot to the children.
    Please check out our website for more info at http://www.saiphstars.com.
    It should be a tremendous zechus for you! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

  2. Felice Glazer says:

    I was just sitting at my piano looking over a very old book of songs called the songs we sing by Harry Cooper Smith. I got this book when I went to Anshe emet Sunday school in Chicago. That was in the late forties and fifties. This book is falling apart but I love it and will never part with it until I pass away. Something today just made me decide to look up the name of Harry Coopersmith and that’s how I found this site.

  3. Philip Joseph Brody says:

    Joseph Brody was my great grandfather. Murray Brody was my grandfather and Joseph Brody was my father. I am Philip Joseph Brody born in Queens N.Y. My halfbrother Brian is a saxophone player. Unfortunately I think musical talent skipped me. My great grandfather died before my father was born. Unfortunately my father died around 59 years old. I’m about to be 52 so hopefully I won’t pass before my time.

  4. MARTY KUGLER says:

    Is there any way that I can get the lyrics to Semour Rockoff’s song “Der moiled vet zein.” I know about half the words, but I no longer have the record. I’ve been searching for the lyrics for over 40 years.

  5. MARTY KUGLER says:

    Is there any way that I can get the lyrics to Semour Rockoff’s song “Der moiled vet zein.” I know about half the words, but I no longer have the record. I’ve been searching for the lyrics for over 40 years. Thanks, Marty Kugler maak68@gmail.com

  6. Steve Sonshine says:

    I had the extreme privilege of attending Band and Orchestra classes taught by Mr. Musiker while attending J. Madison H.S. in Brooklyn, N.Y., from ’63-’65. I, with my fellow percussionists, listened and learned about music, ensembles, and respect, …all lessons taught by Mr. Musiker.
    I am so happy to read of his successes. He deserves them all.
    Mr. Musiker, you are COOL
    with affection,
    Steve Sonshine, Reg. Archt.

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