Leo Fuchs (May 15, 1911 – December 31, 1994) was a Polish-born American actor.[1] According to YIVO, born Avrum Leib Fuchs in Warsaw;[2] according to Schechter, born in Lwów, Galicia, then Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine).[3]

Leo Fuchs
Leo Fuchs 1949.JPG
Fuchs preparing for a role in 1949
Born(1911-05-15)May 15, 1911
DiedDecember 31, 1994(1994-12-31) (aged 83)

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. He wrote much of his own material and toured widely.

Early lifeEdit

Fuchs was born into a Yiddish theatrical family: his father, Yakov Fuchs, was a character actor; his mother, Róża Fuchs (Ruzha Fuchs),[4] was "a leading lady of the musical theatre who perished in the Holocaust of the 1940s,"[5] shot dead by Nazi Germans.[6] He began acting (in Polish) when he was five years old, and was praised when he performed at the Warsaw cabaret Que Pro Quo when he was 17.[3]


His American debut was at the Second Avenue Theater in the Yiddish Theater District in Lucky Boy with Moishe Oysher in 1929.[7] He moved to New York City in 1935.[2] In his prime, he was known as "The Yiddish Fred Astaire",[8][9] appearing both on Broadway and in film. In 1936, he married fellow actor Mirele Gruber and toured with her through Poland for a 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. In 1940 he starred in Amerikaner Shadkhen (American Matchmaker).[10] He divorced in 1941[7] and later married Rebecca Richman.

Starting in the 1960s, Fuchs performed in English-language plays and television,[2] as well as Hollywood films, including The Story of Ruth (1960).[1] Two of his best-known roles were in The Frisco Kid (1979), in which he played with Gene Wilder, and as Hymie Krichinsky in the film Avalon (1990).[3][1] He died in Los Angeles in 1994.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1937 I Want to Be a Mother Khaim Bok
1940 Americaner Shadchen Nat Silver / Uncle Shya
1941 Mazel Tov Yidden
1950 Monticello, Here We Come
1960 The Story of Ruth Sochin
1979 The Frisco Kid Chief Rabbi
1990 Avalon Hymie Krichinsky (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c Mendelovitch, Bernard (January 18, 1995). "Leo Fuchs" (obituary). The Independent. independent.co.uk. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Leo Fuchs papers, Guide to the YIVO Archives. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. yivoarchives.org. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Schechter (2008), p. 180.
  4. ^ Zalmen Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn teater, Book five, 4053
  5. ^ "Save the Music bio: Leo Fuchs". Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  6. ^ Yonas Turkow, Farloshene shtern, book 2, p 83-87
  7. ^ a b Leo Fuchs: Born Laybl Springer in Lemberg. Caraid O'Brien, 2nd Avenue site. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Lugowski, p. 63.
  9. ^ Friedman, p. 36.
  10. ^ Leo Fuchs bio at IMDb. Retrieved May 26, 2015.


  • Friedman, Jonathan C. Rainbow Jews: Jewish and Gay Identity in the Performing Arts. Plymouth, UK: Lexington, 2007.
  • Lugowski, David. "'Pintele' Queer: The Performance of Jewish Male Heterosexuality in Yiddish American Cinema of the Great Depression." In Griffin, Sean. Hetero: Queering Representations of Straightness. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009. 53-70.
  • Schechter, Joel. Messiahs of 1933: How American Yiddish Theatre Survived Adversity through Satire. Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2008.

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