Dora Weissman (left) and an unknown woman / Copyright Forward Association
Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly photo feature in which we sift 116 years of Forward history to find snapshots of women’s lives.
Sometime in the 1900’s, in L. Boressof’s photo studio at 355 Grand and Essex, in the heart of the Lower East Side, a young Dora Weissman felt comfortable enough to pose with arms encircling another’s waist. Her head rested ever so gently against the strength of the ample bosom of another woman. Both gaze straight ahead at the camera in their warm embrace. Perhaps it was her mother.
Weissman established a bright career starting out as a child actor, under the guidance of her father Reuben Weissman, a prompter, translator and playwright and union organizer in New York City’s Yiddish Theatre.
A powerhouse, Weissman was a leading soubrette before long, acting with such notables as Jacob P. Adler and Bertha Kalich. As if that wasn’t enough, she set out to achieve every Jewish mother’s dream:medical school, after graduating Hunter College.
And then, in 1921, she married Anshel Schorr, the manager of the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia among others. A playwright and director, he featured Dora in his many productions and together they toured Europe and Argentina before Schorr’s early death in 1942.
She would live another 32 creative and productive years — enough time to be featured as a regular guest star as the character Mrs. Herman on Gertrude Berg’s groundbreaking television show featuring yet another ample-bosomed Jewish woman, Molly Goldberg. That remained her best known role, despite appearances in the groundbreaking 1970’s films “Panic In Needle Park” and “The Hospital.”
The address of the photo studio on Grand Street, that once helped illuminate a tender moment between two women, is reportedly for sale, listed at $4.5 million.