The New York Times, in its "Reading New York" column, reports on Stefan Kanfer's book, Stardust Lost: The Triumph, Tragedy and Mishugas of the Yiddish Theater in America (Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95).
Their outsize personalities, coupled with excerpts of the skits and scripts they performed and adapted, provide some of the most memorable passages in his book.
Readers gratefully tag along as Jacob Gordin escorts Henry James on a tour of the Lower East Side, and listen in as Paul Muni theatrically transforms himself during his interrogation by an immigration judge from a crippled, heavily accented greenhorn into a proud and polished young man who speaks English eloquently. “Your honor, it’s remarkable,” Muni announces. “Now that you’ve made me a citizen, I can speak perfectly!”