CJH to Host Program about Polly Adler, Russian Jewish Immigrant Who Became a Notorious Madam

New York, NY (November 10, 2021)

Pearl “Polly” Adler’s (1900-1962) life was a classic American story of success and assimilation that starts like a novel by Henry Roth and then turns into a glittering tale straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

On November 10th at 6pm, the Center for Jewish History will stream a live interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Debby Applegate, who tells the jaw-dropping story of Adler, a notorious madam who as much as any single figure helped make the twenties roar.

So, how did a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe become a celebrated brothel keeper in Manhattan where the high society mingled with violent underworld figures—and had a good time doing it?

According to Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager for Public Services at the Center for Jewish History, “Polly Adler was hugely famous in her own day, though nearly forgotten in ours. It is certainly time for her story to be told from a contemporary perspective, and Debby Applegate has done a fantastic job piecing together the details of her life and the colorful, crooked New York City she inhabited.”

This program is funded, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.