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Mort and Mom Early
Mort and his mom (Rae Marcus)

Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks
P. 20

I remember that there were times when I was outgoing, full of joy. But they almost always occurred when my mother was near. She would ask me to entertain her friends when I came home, so by six, I was imitating Jimmy Durante, Peter Lorre, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson; and by ten, I was singing like Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor.Tthe impersonations forced me to concentrate on the intricacies of language and sound, and they were a benefit to my writing endeavors in the long run. But for the most part, I was a morose, angry, violent
child whose heroes were Samson and, later, Judas Maccabeus—Jews whose physical powers rocked the world. The idea of meek, cowed Jews wasn’t even a part of my consciousness. My uncles and cousins were loving, jovial, and tumultuously emotional to be sure, but they were tough, unbending, even belligerent when confronted individually or as a group.



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