Portrait of the month for March
Fanny Behak was a Norwegian-Jewish cabaret artist and actor who starred in a large number of movies and plays between 1925 and 1939. She was born in Christiania as the youngest of four children to Mina (b. Feinberg) and Charles Behak. They had come from Lithuania to Norway in 1899. Charles was a trained goldsmith, who soon established himself as a merchant in the capital. He was also dramatically preoccupied, and worked partly as instructor and director of the Jewish Dramatic Association, one of several theater groups within the Jewish youth association (J.U.F.) Charles’ theater interest must have inspired the youngest child Fanny, for already in 1925 she appeared as an actor in the National Theatre’s production of The dream to Radio Land. The following year she acted opposite Hauk Aabel in the Jewish comedy POTASH & Perlmutter. In 1931 Fanny participated in the first sound film in Norway, the film adaptation of Oskar Braaten’s The Great Child Baptism. In the following years she toured nationally and internationally with a number of great contemporary cabaret stars, including Jens Book Jenssen, Ernst Rolf, Viktor Bernau and Leif Just Nielsen.
In December 1940 Fanny married Eugen Berger (b. 1904), a Jewish-Austrian refugee who came to Norway in 1938. After the Norwegian strike against Jews in the autumn of 1942, Fanny and Eugen managed to escape to Sweden. Fanny’s brother, Nils Behak (b. 1903) were deported and killed in Auschwitz. Her father Charles died in a Hospital in Oslo on 29 November 1942. Fanny herself survived the war but not the peace. On 4 November 1945, she died in Sweden of a liver disease. She is buried at the Jewish cemetery in Oslo.