A Pittsburgh native, Nathan “Nat” Elbaum (1913-1998) became interested in drama growing up in the East End. He starred in a 1931 production of A. A. Milne’s “The Romantic Age” opposite Louis Reizenstein at Peabody High School and played the villain in the University of Pittsburgh Players’ 1935 production of Anna Mowatt Ritchie’s “Fashion.”
After a year in California learning the auto parts business from an uncle and service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Elbaum returned to Pittsburgh to open the American Auto Products Company on Centre Avenue in the East End. While running the business, Elbaum acted in productions at the Y Playhouse and the Pittsburgh Playhouse throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. These local productions with amateur casts often earned rave reviews from critics such as Harold V. Cohen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In 1980, Post-Gazette columnist Joe Browne wrote, “I’ll always believe that Nat Elbaum was one of the most talented actors I’ve ever watched perform. When the Playhouse was in its heyday, he lit up the stage in every play in which he appeared. I can still see him in ‘All My Sons.’ Why he never went to New York and the ‘big time’ I don’t know — but I suspect it was because he had responsibilities here that made it impossible.”
Elbaum met his wife Libby Roth Elbaum (1918-2014) through the theater. Elbaum also acted opposite his lifelong friend Freda Cazen Alber. The Elbaums had two children, Lenore and Charles.