Yiddish theater actress and singer Lillian Lux died Saturday June 11 in Manhattan of congestive heart failure. She was 86.
With her husband, Pesach Burstein, Lux starred inYiddish-language plays and musicals from the 1930s on. In later years, the couple performed with their two children as the Four Bursteins.
The family was the subject of a documentary, “The Komediant,” shown in the United States in 2002. Directed by Arnon Goldfinger, an Israeli filmmaker, the film is narrated by Lux. Lux and Burstein were a popular acting couple during Yiddish theater’s heyday in New York, which had more than a dozen Yiddish venues.
In the late 1940s Lux had her own Yiddish-language radio show on WEVD-AM. By the 1950s, Yiddish theater began to disappear and the family travelled to Europe, South America and Israel in pursuit of receptive audiences.
Born in Brooklyn, she began her stage training as a child with the Yiddish Art Theater, run by the impresario Maurice Schwartz. As a teenager, she played the Catskills, performing opposite Danny Kaye.
At 17 she met Burstein, more than 20 years her senior and an established star. He hired her as an actress for his South American tour, and they were married in Uruguay in 1938.
In the late 1930s, the couple toured Poland, catching the last ship out before the Nazis invaded in September 1939. In the 1960s, they performed in Israel with “The Megilla of Itzik Manger,” a musical version of the Book of Esther, which came to Broadway in a Yiddish-English production in 1968.
After her husband’s death in 1986, Lux performed in a one-woman show and appeared often on radio.
She is survived by her son Mike Burstyn , an actor, a daughter and a sister.