Celebrated musical comedy entertainer who began her career with Philadelphia's Arch Street Theater in 1912, later becoming a beloved star of New York's Second Avenue Yiddish stage and a cross-over Bro...
Wrote and starred in one-woman show, "Hello Molly" and "Those Were the Days"
Stage debut at age six in Philadelphia under the management of Michael Thomashefsky
Broadway stage debut and first English-language starring part in "Morning Star"
Performed Yiddish plays in New York, London and Israel
Starred at the Molly Picon Theater in "Girl of Yesterday"
Toured US military camps and displaced person camps in Europe with her husband
Starred opposite her husband in "Love Thief" in Europe, the Near East, South America
New York stage debut in "Yankele"
Moved to Philadelphia as a child
Toured European theaters with husband's company where she perfected her Yiddish
English-language film debut in Neil Simon's "Come Blow Your Horn"
Performed in vaudeville at the Palace Theater in New York and on tour
At age five won a teddy bear in a burlesque-house amateur program; mother recognized her talent and encouraged Picon, who started singing for 50 cents a night
Appeared in the musical revue, "How to Be a Jewish Mother"
Toured Korea and Japan for the USO
Toured vaudeville in an act called "Four Seasons"
Featured on Broadway in Jerry Herman musical, "Milk and Honey"
Toured US and Canada for Israel Bonds
Appeared in Yiddish repertory with her husband's troup at the Boston Grand Opera
Returned to Second Avenue theater to star in a Yiddish vehicle, "The Kosher Widow"; also wrote lyrics to music by Sholom Secunda
Starred on Broadway in "Dear Me, The Sky Is Falling"
Film debut in Yiddish-language film, "Mazel Tov"
First appeared in cabaret
Starred in various productions at Kessler's Theater in New York
Appeared in Yiddish repertory in "Gabriel", "The Silver King," "Sappho", "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Shulamite" in Philadelphia and on tour
The Venice Theater (formerly the Jolson) renamed the Molly Picon; opened with "Oy Is Dus a Leben!", A musical autobiography with Picon starring as herself
Celebrated musical comedy entertainer who began her career with Philadelphia's Arch Street Theater in 1912, later becoming a beloved star of New York's Second Avenue Yiddish stage and a cross-over Broadway performer. <p> Petite and energetic, Picon worked prolifically in plays and vaudeville, making her Yiddish film debut in "Mazel Tov" (1924). In 1936 she traveled to Poland with Polish-born American director Joseph Green to star in the charming semi-musical "Yiddle With His Fiddle". Picon played an itinerant musician posing as a boy in order to travel the Polish countryside without sexual harassment. (The actress often used her slight stature and unglamorous looks to portray girls masquerading as boys.) While in Poland she also starred in Green's "Mamale" (1938) and, upon her return to the US, made a belated English-language starring debut in the Broadway play, "Morning Star".<p> Picon spent much of the 1950s on tour with the USO and in various international fundraising efforts. The 1960s saw her career boosted by her spirited featured role in Jerry Herman's first Broadway musical, "Milk and Honey", which she soon followed with her English-language film debut as the mother of two playboy sons in Neil Simon's "Come Blow Your Horn" (1964). Picon played the definitive Jewish matchmaker, Yente, in "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971), and a bossy madam trying to recruit Barbra Streisand to prostitution in the comedy "For Pete's Sake" (1974). An indefatigable trouper, she continued to appear on stage in her one-woman show into her eighties.
married June 29, 1919, died 1975; wrote 40 shows and books to operettas (including her hit "Yankele") for Picon during their marriage
"With her sparkling 'ganayvishe oygen,' or mischievous eyes, and her sturdy delivery of Yiddish songs with appropriate gestures and intonation, she reigned supreme in more than 200 productions along the Yiddish theater row that was lower Second Avenue during the 1920s....Hers was the expansive, emotional style that would have been restricted by the colder performances tailored to the realism of Broadway."--Murray Schumach ("New York Times" obituary, April 7, 1992)