was a Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...
-born Jewish American actor. According to YIVO, born Avrum Leib Fuchs in Warsaw; according to Schechter, born in Lemberg, Galicia, then Poland, now Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...
Fuchs performed in many Yiddish and English plays and movies throughout the mid-twentieth century, and was famed as a comic, a dancer, and a coupletist
A coupletist is a poet, singer, or actor who specializes in couplets - wittily ambiguous, political, or satirical songs, usually in cabaret settings, usually with refrains, generally used as a transition between two cabaret numbers....
. He wrote much of his own material and toured widely.
Fuchs was born into a Yiddish theatrical family: his father, Yakov Fuchs
Yakov Fuchs , Yiddish theater actor. Born in Lemburg , Galitsia, he joined a Yiddish theater chorus at the age of 17 and after singing in Lemburg and Rumania for a short time, he became a soloist and then starred in Professor Hurvitz's operetta Jacob and Esau. Yakov's voice deteriorated due to lung...
, was a character actor; his mother, Ruzha Fuchs
Ruzha Fuchs , Yiddish theater actress. Born in Lemburg . She entered the chorus of a Polish-language theater because she didn't know much Yiddish, but through connections was taken into the Yiddish theater chorus a month later...
, was "a leading lady of the musical theatre who perished in the Holocaust." He began acting (in Polish) when he was five years old, and was praised when he performed at the Warsaw cabaret Qui Pro Quo
when he was 17.
His American debut was at the Second Avenue Theater in Lucky Boy
with Moishe Oysher
Moishe Oysher Moishe Oysher Moishe Oysher (Yiddish: משה אוישר, (born 1906 in Lipkon (Lipkany), Bessarabia, Imperial Russia – died 27 November 1958, New Rochelle, New York, USA). was a cantor and Yiddish theatre actor. He is considered one of the most entertaining chazanim (cantors) ever...
in 1929. He moved to New York City in 1935, In his prime, he was known as "The Yiddish Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...
", appearing both on Broadway and in film. In 1936, he married fellow actor Mirele Gruber and toured with her through Poland for a year next year. In 1937 he made two movies, the short I want to be a boarder
(in which he sang his famous song Trouble
) and I Want to Be a Mother
with Yetta Zwerling
Yetta Zwerling Silverman Yiddish movie star during the 1930s and 1940s.-Early life:Zwerling was born in Kalievo, near Lemberg, Galicia, Austria-Hungary ; her father had a fruit business and was also a klezmer...
. In 1940 he starred in Americaner Shadchen (American Matchmaker)
. He divorced in 1941 and later married Rebecca Richman.
Starting in the 1960s, Fuchs performed in English-language films, plays, and television. Two of his best-known roles later in life included Hymie Krichinsky in the film Avalon
and the doomed Herr Shultz in the original Broadway production of Cabaret
Cabaret is a musical based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The 1966 Broadway production became a hit and spawned a 1972 film as well as numerous subsequent productions....
, opposite Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs...
. He died in Los Angeles in 1994.