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May 15: The Yiddish Fred Astaire

May 14, 2016

220px-Leo_Fuchs_1949Actor and dancer Leo Fuchs, lifelong star of the Yiddish theater, creator of the famous song “Trouble,” and a star in the original Broadway production of Cabaret, was born to a theatrical family in Warsaw on this date in 1911. “Fuchs’s specialty,” writes Bernard Mendelovitch in The Independent, “was comedy and when he commenced his career in the Yiddish theatre in Poland in the early ’30s, the casting of each play was based on stereotypes — the handsome young hero, the patriarch, the devious villain — and the comedy was always in the hands of the hapless little fellow who was constantly henpecked by wife or mother-in-law. Fuchs’s persona was different: he was the put-upon comic who was tall, dark and handsome.” He was also famous for his rubbery, double-jointed dance abilities and contortions (sometimes while playing the violin), which earned him the nickname, “The Yiddish Fred Astaire.” Movies in which Fuchs’ had significant roles included The Frisco Kid (1979) and Avalon (1990). He lived to 84. To see Fuchs performing “Trouble” in the 1937 film I Want To Be a Boarder, look below.

“The world’s gone to hell, business are falling apart. Trouble.
Everybody is bankrupt these days, may God protect us. Trouble.” —Leo Fuchs