Molly Picon

Molly Picon
Molly Picon
Born Małka Opiekun
February 28, 1898(1898-02-28)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died April 6, 1992(1992-04-06) (aged 94)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1904–1984
Spouse Jacob Kalich (1919–1975) (his death)

Molly Picon (Yiddish: מאָלי פּיקאָן; February 28, 1898[1] – April 6, 1992) was an American actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a lyricist and dramatic storyteller.[2]

She was first and foremost a star in Yiddish theatre and film, but as Yiddish theatre faded she began to perform in English-language productions.


Early life

Picon was born as Małka Opiekun in New York City, the daughter of Polish emigrants: Clara (née Ostrow), a wardrobe mistress, and Louis Opiekun, a shirtmaker.[3] Opiekun is a Polish language name meaning, "guardian" or "caretaker". Her surname was later changed to Picon. Her career began at the age of six in the Yiddish Theatre. In 1912, she debuted at the Arch Street Theatre in New York and became a star of the Second Avenue Yiddish stage.


Picon was so popular in the 1920s that many shows had her adopted name, Molly, in their title. In 1931 she opened the Molly Picon Theatre. She appeared in many films, starting with silent movies. Her earliest film still existing is the 1923 East and West, which deals with the clash of new and old Jewish cultures. She played an American-born daughter who travels with her father back to Galicia in East Central Europe. Her real-life husband Jacob Kalich played one of her relatives.[citation needed]

Picon as Mrs. Bronson, 1962.

Picon's most famous film, Yidl Mit'n Fidl (1936), was made on location in Poland, and has her wearing male clothing through most of the film. In the film, a girl and her father are forced by poverty to set out on the road as traveling musicians. For her safety, she disguises herself as a boy, which becomes inconvenient when she falls in love with one of the other musicians in the troupe. Later Mamele was made in Poland.[citation needed]

Picon made her English language debut on stage in 1940. On Broadway, she starred in the Jerry Herman musical Milk and Honey in 1961. In 1966 she quit the disastrous Chu Chem during previews in Philadelphia; the show closed before reaching Broadway.

She was featured in a bit part in the 1948 film The Naked City as the woman running a newsstand and soda fountain towards the climax of the film. Her first major English speaking role in the movies was the film version of Come Blow Your Horn (1963), with Frank Sinatra. She portrayed Yente, the Matchmaker in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof in 1971.

In the 1970s, she was featured as a madam named Mrs. Cherry in For Pete's Sake, starring Barbra Streisand. She later played a role on television on the soap opera Somerset and appeared in a couple of episodes of The Facts of Life as Natalie's grandmother. She also played the role of Molly Gordon in an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC and had a recurring role as Mrs. Bronson in the TV series Car 54, Where Are You?.


Picon wrote a biography about her family called So Laugh a Little in 1962. Later, in 1980, she published an autobiography called Molly.


  • An entire room was filled with her memorabilia at the Second Avenue Deli in New York (now closed at that location).


Picon died on April 6, 1992, aged 94, from Alzheimer's disease in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jacob Kalich, her husband from 1919 until his death in 1975, died from cancer. They had no children. She is buried in the Yiddish Theater section of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.


  1. ^ Jewish
  2. ^ Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) August 29, 1952 pg. 16
  3. ^ Picon's Film Reference bio
  4. ^ "26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame." The New York Times, March 3, 1981.


  • Eth Clifford. Molly Picon - so laugh a little, Messner, 1962 (see [1]).
  • Lila Perl, Donna Ruff. Molly Picon: a gift of laughter, Jewish Publication Society, 1990, ISBN 0827603363.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Molly Picon — bei einem Auftritt für die U.S.O. am 21. März 1945 Molly Picon (* 1. Juni 1898 in New York City; † 5. April 1992 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania), jiddisch: מאָלי פּיקאָן) war eine US amerikanische Theater und Filmschauspielerin, die …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Molly Picon — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Picon. Molly Picon (yiddish: מאָלי פּיקאָן) est une actrice et chanteuse américaine du XXe siècle (1er juin 1898 – 5 avril 1992), ayant exercé sur scène, grand et petit écran. Vedette du théâtre yiddish …   Wikipédia en Français

  • PICON, MOLLY — (née Maragret Pyckoon; 1898–1992), U.S. actress in Yiddish and English. Born in New York, she made her name playing Yiddish roles on 2nd Avenue. She was at Kessler s Theater for several years and in 1935 went touring in vaudeville with her… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Picon — can refer to:* Molly Picon, the Yiddish actress * Picón, in Spain * Picon, one of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol in the television show Battlestar Galactica * Picture icons, used in the Apple Computer instant messaging program iChat * Sirop de… …   Wikipedia

  • Molly — ist ein weiblicher Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Bekannte Namensträger 2.1 Vorname 2.2 Familienname 3 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Picon (Begriffsklärung) — Picon steht für ein aus Frankreich stammendes Aperitifgetränk, siehe Picon Picon ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Jean Pierre Picon (1926–2005), deutscher Maler, Grafiker und Bildhauer Molly Picon (1898–1992), US amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Picon, Molly — (1898 1992)    Born in New York, Molly Picon grew up in Philadelphia where she and her mother sewed costumes for Yiddish theatre actors. She made her debut in an English language vaudeville act in 1904, although she spent much of her career on… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Picon (homonymie) — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Le Picon est un amer, une boisson apéritive, de couleur caramel qui accompagne traditionnellement la bière dans l est et le nord de la France et en… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Picon, Molly — (b. 1898)    American actress. She was born in New York. She played Yiddish roles on Second Avenue, acted at Kessler s Theatre, and went on tour with her husband, Jacob Kalich. From 1942 she managed the Molly Picon Theatre in New York. After… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Picon, Molly — ▪ American actress born June 1, 1898, New York, N.Y., U.S. died April 6, 1992, Lancaster, Pa.       American actress and singer, the “Sweetheart of Second Avenue” in Yiddish theatre in New York City during the 1920s and 30s, who was known for her …   Universalium