Zero Mostel was born Samuel Joel Mostel on February 28, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, one of eight children of an Orthodox Jewish family. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the young Zero, known as Sammy, developed his talent for painting and drawing at art classes provided by the Educational Alliance, an institution serving Jewish immigrants and their children. Sammy often would go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to copy the paintings.
Sam Mostel matriculated at the City College of New York, then entered a master’s program in art at New York University after graduating from CCNY in 1935. He dropped out after a year and worked at odd jobs before being hired by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project to teach drawing and painting at the 92nd Street “Y”, the famous Young Men and Young Women’s Hebrew Association located on Manhattan’s 92nd St., in 1937.
Mostel married Clara Sverd, a CCNY classmate, in 1939, but the marriage was troubled due to personality… read more