Biography

Elihu "Elye" Tenenholtz was born in the Russian hamlet of Azran, near the city of Rovne, in 1887 and came to the US at the age of ten. His first appearance in amateur Yiddish theatricals occurred in 1903, in staged readings of the works of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem, the first person to do that. He augmented his theater appearances by writing for and editing a Yiddish satirical magazine under the pen-name "Moishe McCarthy". In 1916 he made the leap to the professional Yiddish stage and, befriended by the great doyenne Bessie Thomashevsky, helped her pen her memoirs, the first publication documenting a Yiddish actor's life. By 1920 he was appearing on both the Yiddish art stage with Maurice Schwartz and on Broadway, quickly rising to the top leadership of the Hebrew Actors' Union, the first arts union in America. In 1925 he co-founded a theater company with Celia Adler, half-sister of Luther Adler and "Method" teacher Stella Adler. In 1926 he was summoned to Hollywood and given a five-year contract at MGM. Like most Jewish actors, when he arrived in Hollywood he changed his name (choosing to bifurcate it into "Tenen Holtz"). During that time he regularly appeared in films alongside such stars as Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and Marion Davies and under directors like King Vidor and Victor Fleming. This period would prove to be Tenenholtz's most prolific and would account for the majority of the 50+ films in which he would appear.

While in Hollywood he helped jump start its fledgling Yiddish theater, founding a popular Yiddish theater company that included other transplanted Yiddish actors including Muni Weisenfreund (aka Paul Muni, father and son Rudolph Schildkraut and Joseph Schildkraut. When his contract at MGM ended, he moved over to Warner Brothers where he made films with Leslie Howard under the direction of Michael Curtiz. By the late 1930s the only calls he got were from Poverty Row studios, so Tenenholtz moved to nearby Monrovia and opened a chicken ranch. Though he would occasionally go back in front of the camera, he retired from film. By the time TV emerged, he landed a few roles on shows such as Perry Mason (1957) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955). He died in 1971.

Elihu "Elye" Tenenholtz was born in the Russian hamlet of Azran, near the city of Rovne, in 1887 and came to the US at the age of ten. His first appearance in amateur Yiddish theatricals occurred in 1903, in staged readings of the works of Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem, the first person to do that. He augmented his theater appearances by writing for and editing a Yiddish satirical magazine under the pen-name "Moishe McCarthy". In 1916 he made the leap to the professional Yiddish stage and, befriended by the great doyenne Bessie Thomashevsky, helped her pen her memoirs, the first publication documenting a Yiddish actor's life. By 1920 he was appearing on both the Yiddish art stage with Maurice Schwartz and on Broadway, quickly rising to the top leadership of the Hebrew Actors' Union, the first arts union in America. In 1925 he co-founded a theater company with Celia Adler, half-sister of Luther Adler and "Method" teacher Stella Adler. In 1926 he was summoned to Hollywood and given a five-year contract at MGM. Like most Jewish actors, when he arrived in Hollywood he changed his name (choosing to bifurcate it into "Tenen Holtz"). During that time he regularly appeared in films alongside such stars as Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and Marion Davies and under directors like King Vidor and Victor Fleming. This period would prove to be Tenenholtz's most prolific and would account for the majority of the 50+ films in which he would appear.

While in Hollywood he helped jump start its fledgling Yiddish theater, founding a popular Yiddish theater company that included other transplanted Yiddish actors including Muni Weisenfreund (aka Paul Muni, father and son Rudolph Schildkraut and Joseph Schildkraut. When his contract at MGM ended, he moved over to Warner Brothers where he made films with Leslie Howard under the direction of Michael Curtiz. By the late 1930s the only calls he got were from Poverty Row studios, so Tenenholtz moved to nearby Monrovia and opened a chicken ranch. Though he would occasionally go back in front of the camera, he retired from film. By the time TV emerged, he landed a few roles on shows such as Perry Mason (1957) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955). He died in 1971.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender -

Known Credits 40

Birthday 1887-02-17

Day of Death 1971-07-01

Place of Birth Volin - Russia

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • Alexander Elihu Tenenholtz

Acting TV ShowsMovies

1958 Peter Gunn (2 episodes)
1957 Perry Mason (2 episodes)
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1 episode)
1939 Henry Goes Arizona as Boris - a Ranch Hand
1939 Mutiny on the Blackhawk
1939 Bridal Suite as Hotel Runner at Train Station
1939 Let Freedom Ring as Hunky
1938 Cipher Bureau as Simon Herrick
1938 International Crime as Starkhov
1937 Nothing Sacred as Tearful Waiter (uncredited)
1934 British Agent as Lenin
1934 Hollywood Hoodlum as Benjamin Vogel
1934 Money Means Nothing as Mr. Silverman
1933 The Chief as Bald Henchman at Cabin
1933 Broadway to Hollywood as Booking Agent
1933 Hard to Handle as Tailor
1933 Whistling in the Dark as Herman
1932 Faithless as Diner Proprietor
1932 Cock of the Air as Tall Waiter
1931 Devotion as Waiter
1931 Sporting Blood as Gus, Bald Gambling Mobster (uncredited)
1931 Laughing Sinners as Poker-Playing Salesman
1931 Gentleman's Fate as Tony
1930 All Teed Up as Senator Brown
1930 Whispering Whoopee as Mr. Holtz
1930 The Kibitzer as Meyer
1929 House of Horror as Brown
1929 The Duke Steps Out as Jake, Duke's manager
1928 Show People as Casting Director
1928 The Ol' Gray Hoss as Man with Sooty on Face
1928 The Cardboard Lover as Albine
1928 Detectives as Orloff
1928 The Trail of '98 as Mr. Bulkey
1928 Bringing Up Father as Ginsberg Feitelbaum
1928 The Garden of Eden as Headwaiter at Palais de Paris (uncredited)
1928 The Latest from Paris as Abe Littauer
1928 The Law of the Range as Cohen
1926 Exit Smiling as Tod Powell
1926 Upstage as Sam Davis
1925 Salome of the Tenements as Banker Ben (as Elihu Tenenholz)

By signing up for an account on TMDb, you can post directly to Twitter and Facebook.

You need to be logged in to continue. Click here to login or here to sign up.

Global

s focus the search bar
p open profile menu
esc close an open window
? open keyboard shortcut window

On media pages

b go back (or to parent when applicable)
e go to edit page

On TV season pages

(right arrow) go to next season
(left arrow) go to previous season

On TV episode pages

(right arrow) go to next episode
(left arrow) go to previous episode

On all image pages

a open add image window

On all edit pages

t open translation selector
ctrl+ s submit form

On discussion pages

n create new discussion
w toggle watching status
p toggle public/private
c toggle close/open
a open activity
r reply to discussion
l go to last reply
ctrl+ enter submit your message
(right arrow) next page
(left arrow) previous page