A Curious Profession: Jewish Impersonator

Salt Lake Tribune May 05, 1913

While researching something else I came across this curious article from the Salt Lake Tribune of May 05, 1913. This article praising Harry Cooper as as “Jewish impersonator.” It’s not clear from this article whether Cooper is Jewish himself or just an actor who specializes in playing Jews. According the article the actor was “a wonderful  impersonator of the typical Jew.”

So the question I have is: to what degree was being a “Jewish impersonator” a recognized profression? Or was this just an awkward phrase invented by a reporter of the Salt Lake Tribune? Was Cooper just a Jewish comedian, a precursor to Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld? Or is this something different? Any advice from historians out there would be appreciated.

2 thoughts on “A Curious Profession: Jewish Impersonator

  1. Harry Cooper. hasw been described as a man”who appeared on stage as an old Jewish man wearing a long beard and derby hat.” Another source describes Cooper as having the catch phrase “Hows the Mommah?” as he tips his derby. If I’m reading all this right, he did jokes in a psedo-Yiddish and then sang without an accent. Had his own music publishing business. Popular enough, that George Jessell in the early 1910s was doing Cooper imitations for a living. I see also that Cooper was involved in Jewish charities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s