Rosa Kurtz and Her

Long Difficult Life

During its short existence, the Moscow State Jewish Theater (GOSET) gained its fame not only thanks to its genious directors who were also brilliant actors – Mikhoels and Zuskin – but thanks to many other great artistric names as well.

One of them was Rosa Kurtz (1908-2003). Born in the early 20th century into a family of Jewish actors, she herself lived a long and very difficult life as a “wandering star”.



Rosa Kurtz

Rosa Kurtz received her education at the GOSET theater studio that opened in 1929. In 1931 she joined the GOSET’s troupe and was on the stage of this famous theater up until its closure in 1950. Then she faced difficult years without having work.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that her husband, the lawyer Boris Dranov, who also stemmed from a family of Jewish actors, was bedridden due to a terrible illness. Rosa Kurtz met the ends by making artificial flowers.

In 1961, during the Khrushchev Thaw, Vladimir Shvartser created the Jewish Theater Ensemble and Rosa once again took the stage and began wandering across Russia, often experiencing inconveniences in far away places. At least, the theater work provided her with some income and she had the opportunity to successfully perform with her troupe in front of a Jewish audience – in Yiddish, of course!

In 1978, Rosa Kurtz, after having received the award as a “shock worker of communist labor” (how ironic!), emigrated to the United States with her son and his family. Despite her age, she began to give concerts, playing little scenes from Yiddish performances and singing Yiddish songs. One article in a Houston newspaper, preserved in her family archive, was entirely dedicated to her performances and headlined with huge letters: “The Jewish Theater Comes to Houston.”


Here we publish Rosa Kurtz’s memoirs for the first time – with Alexander Dranov’s foreword and afterword.