Donen’s Women’s Apparel


Main Street
Columbia, SC


Mordecai “Mordie” Moses Donen (1899-1959) was one of four children born to Russian immigrants, Isaac (1847-1914) and Bettie Levkoff Donen (1873-1953). Born in Augusta, Georgia and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, Mordie moved to Columbia in 1919 to join his twin uncles George (1881-1959) and Lazarus Levkoff (1881-1933) at Levkoff Brothers. In 1923, Mordie married Columbia native Helen Cohen (1905-1988), and one year later the newlyweds welcomed their only child, Stanley Donen (1924-2019). By 1927, Mordie began serving as the manager of ready-to-wear shop, Mangel’s, and then opened his own store, Donen’s Women’s Apparel in 1947. Located at 1627 Main Street, Donen’s stocked “exclusive feminine apparel” like high-end dresses, suits, and blouses that he purchased from wholesale businesses in St. Louis and New York.1 After operating Donen’s for eight years, Mordie closed the store in favor of working for Herbert Spiers Agency. By that time, Mordie and Helen’s son Stanley had directed some of the most iconic films in the Golden Age of Cinema, including Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).


1 “Donen’s,” State, March 6, 1947, 12.

Main Image: Donen’s clearance sale. Reprinted from The State, January 27, 1952.


Above Image: Donen’s formal opening. Reprinted from The State, March 6, 1947.


Above Image: Advertisement for Donen’s. Reprinted from The State, March 23, 1952.

The Jewish Merchant Project is supported by the generosity of the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation and the Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment at the Coastal Community Foundation.

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Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center
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