Former Israeli Stage Director Hy Kalus, 87, Dies in New York

Shir Hacham
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Shir Hacham

One of Israel's leading theater directors in the early decades of statehood, the Rhode Island-born Hy Kalus, died this week in his New York home. He was 87.

Kalus, who was one of the first to direct plays at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater, is credited with bringing method acting and American realism to the Israeli theater. He arrived in Israel in 1953, after being awarded a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, and directed the world premiere of "The Troublemakers," an anti-McCarthyism play he could not get produced in New York.

This was the beginning of a nearly 40-year career as an Israeli stage director with more than 40 major productions to his credit, including some of the longest-running shows in Israel's theatrical history. His shows included Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones," which went on stage in 1958 at the Cameri and Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," which Kalus directed in 1976.

At Habima Theater in Tel Aviv, Kalus directed plays including John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger" and Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He also directed dozens of documentary films.

Kalus was born on May 21, 1925, and served in the 11th Armored Division of the U.S. Army after enlisting at age 17. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate Mauthausen concentration camp.

Before moving to Israel Kalus earned an undergraduate degree from New York University and studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. He died Sunday after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Zahava Hess Kalus, sons Oren Kalus of New Paltz, New York and Ram Kalus of Charleston, South Carolina, and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 11:30 A.M. at the Weinstein Memorial Chapel in Yonkers, New York, with a funeral service to follow immediately at Sharon Gardens in the Bronx River Valley.

Hy Kalus.Credit: Efrat Abraham

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