Sabine Herts

[ Age 93 ] Raised in a theater family, the Reisterstown resident performed on Broadway and acted for nearly 70 years.

January 12, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Sabine Herts, an actress who made her debut on Broadway and appeared on the stage for nearly 70 years, died of pulmonary illness Jan. 2 at the Jewish Convalescent and Nursing Home. The Reisterstown resident was 93.

"She was an accomplished actress who was able to create character without artifice," said F. Scott Black, a theatrical director who is also dean of the School of Liberal Arts at the Community College of Baltimore County. "Sabine played quirky characters she rooted in believability. She was a master of dialogue and played major roles requiring much memorization well into her 80s."

Sabine Newmark was born into a theatrical family in New York City. She was distantly related to the Marx Brothers and several of her aunts were vaudeville actors.

"I can never remember a time when I wasn't hanging around the theater and being in it," she told a Sun interviewer in 1995. After study with actor Reginald Goode, she was cast as a concubine in the 1934 Broadway version of The Good Earth. She played alongside Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet and Alla Nazimova, and the production had a pre-Broadway opening at the National Theater in Washington.

"There is nothing like Broadway," she said in the interview. "It means you've made it. You consider yourself a full-fledged actor. And I was playing with these great actors."

The assistant set designer for The Good Earth was an architect named John Herts, whose father designed New York's New Amsterdam and Lyceum theaters. She married Mr. Herts in 1936.

She then worked in smaller theaters, but after moving to Grand Rapids, Mich., where her husband redesigned factories for war industries, she appeared in The Man Who Came to Dinner and as Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare tragedy. She later returned to New York.

She moved to Baltimore in 1984 to be near family members.

"The first thing I did in Baltimore was find a theater," she said in the 1995 interview. She played roles at Theatre Hopkins, the Spotlighters, the Jewish Community Center, Fell's Point Corner Theatre, Towson Dinner Theater and Everyman Theatre.

When a Sun interviewer asked about her "authoritatively throaty voice," Ms. Herts said, "I always had a very deep voice, and it was not the voice of the girl next door, so I got a lot of dramatic roles and did a lot of Shakespeare."

Services were held Sunday.

Survivors include her son, Dr. John B. Herts of Reisterstown; three granddaughters; and a great-grandson. Her husband died in 1970.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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