TZELNIKER, MEIR (1896–1980), Yiddish actor. Tzelniker began his career at 12 in Bessarabia, Russia, and attended the Odessa School of Drama. He played for three years on the Russian stage and joined a Yiddish company in 1922. Immigrating to London in 1927, he played in Yiddish at the Pavilion Theater, Whitechapel, and then headed the Yiddish National Theater Company. In 1939 he took over the Yiddish Theater in the Grand Palais, Whitechapel, which played throughout World War II in modern repertoire and in Shakespeare. He made a hit in The King of Lampedusa based on an amusing war episode. He subsequently appeared in films and television. His daughter, ANNA TZELNIKER (1922– ), who was born in Romania, was also a well-known Yiddish actress in London.
D. Mazower, The Yiddish Theatre in London (1987).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.