KRESSYN, MIRIAM (1911–1996), actress in Yiddish theater and film, singer and songwriter, radio personality, and historian of the Yiddish theater; known as the "First Lady of Yiddish Theater." Born in Bialystok, Poland, the seventh child of Mashe and Yankev Kressyn, she immigrated to Boston in 1923. A voice student at the New England Conservatory of Music, she eventually joined a Yiddish theater troupe and began a successful career on the Yiddish stage. She toured in North and South America and throughout Europe. In 1937 she starred in Der Purimshpiler, produced in Warsaw, her only film role. With her husband, Seymour Rexsite, Kressyn recorded numerous albums; for more than 40 years she and her husband broadcast their radio program, Memories of the Yiddish Theater, on New York's WEVD radio. From the late 1980s until her death, Kressyn was a professor of drama at Queens College in New York City.
M. Rosenfeld. "Kressyn, Miriam," in: P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, vol. 1 (1998), 760–61; N. Sandrow. Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater (1977).
[Judith R. Baskin (2nd ed.)]
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