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Born on New York City's storied Second Avenue, Bruce Adler came from a family steeped in Yiddish theater for generations. His maternal grandparents, who came to the United States from Russia in the 1880s, were both Yiddish theater performers, as were his parents, Julius Adler and Henrietta Jacobson, and his uncles, Hyman ("Hymie") and Irving Jacobson.
Adler began performing on stage with his parents as young as age three and made his Broadway debut in 1979 in the musical Oklahoma. Later, he starred in shows celebrating Yiddish theater and culture, such as Those Were the Days (1991), for which he earned a Drama Desk award and Tony nomination, as well as The Golden Land, On Second Avenue, Bagels and Yox, Raisins and Almonds, and Greetings … Sholom Aleichem Lives! with Theodore Bikel and Judy Kaye. He was nominated for the 1992 Tony and Drama Desk awards for his role in the Gershwin musical Crazy for You. Adler also performed the singing voice of the narrator in the 1992 animated film Aladdin.
A dear friend of the Milken Archive, Bruce Adler made invaluable recorded contributions to the Yiddish theater project, and was a featured performer at the One People, Many Voices concert in Los Angeles in 2006. He died of liver cancer in 2008.
(Last updated: June 8, 2010)