Sara Adler

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Sara Adler
Sara Levitskaya

(1858-05-26)26 May 1858
Died28 April 1953(1953-04-28) (aged 94)
Resting placeMount Carmel Cemetery, Queens[1]
Years active1866–1928
Spouse(s)Maurice Heine
(m. bef. 1883; div. 1890)
Jacob Pavlovich Adler
(m. 1891; died 1926)
Children6 including; Luther, Stella, Jay, & Julia

Sara Adler (née Levitskaya, Britannica gives Levitsky; 26 May 1858 – 28 April 1953) was a Russian-born Jewish actress in Yiddish theater who made her career mainly in the United States.

She was the third wife of Jacob Adler and the mother of prominent actors Luther and Stella Adler, and lesser-known actors Jay, Julia Adler, Frances, and Florence.[2] The most famous of her 300 or so leading roles was the redeemed prostitute Katusha Maslova in Jacob Gordin's play based on Tolstoy's Resurrection.[3]


She was born in Odessa, Russian Empire (currently in Ukraine), and grew up speaking Russian, and only learned Yiddish through her participation in Yiddish theater.

In Russia, she married Maurice Heine, leader of a Yiddish theater troupe. After the 1883 ban on Yiddish theater in Imperial Russia, Maurice and Sara Heine left in 1884 for New York City. They had two sons Joseph and Max Heine.[4] Jacob Adler recorded that when she first performed at his London theater, around 1886, "she spoke no Yiddish ... but came out before the curtain and sang Russian songs".[2]

In 1890, Maurice and Sara divorced, and in 1891 she married Jacob Adler, himself recently divorced from a brief second marriage to Dinah Shtettin. She and Adler would be among the most prominent actors in Yiddish theater in New York for the next three decades.[citation needed] Both she and Jacob starred in the 1908 play The Worthless written by Jacob Gordin, and in 1911 she appeared in Gordin's play Elisha Ben Abuyah (originally staged in 1906). In 1914, she starred in the silent film, Sins of the Parents directed by Ivan Abramson.[3] The film was one of only two movies in which she appeared. After her husband's 1920 stroke and 1926 death, she performed only infrequently.

Although probably most remembered for her lead roles opposite her husband, Sara Adler also set out on her own with the Novelty Theater in Brooklyn where she presented (in Yiddish) works of Ibsen and Shaw well before they were familiar to an English-language audience. She also presented works of the French feminist Eugène Brieux. After Rudolph Schildkraut quarrelled with Max Reinhardt in Vienna, Sara Adler brought him to Brooklyn to play the husband in Jacob Gordin's stage adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata. That production also included Jacob Ben-Ami (associated with the Vilna Troupe, as well as Adler offspring Stella and Luther Adler (Adler, 1999, 361 (commentary)).


  1. ^ "Sarah Adler". Find A Grave. Find A Grave. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b Adler, Jacob, A Life on the Stage: A Memoir, translated and with commentary by Lulla Rosenfeld, Knopf, New York, 1999, ISBN 0-679-41351-0. 266, passim.
  3. ^ a b (22 August 1914). Mme. Sarah Adler, The Moving Picture World, p. 1086.
  4. ^ New York Times, April 29, 1953, obituary: "Sarah Adler Dies; Yiddish Stage Star", p. 29.


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