Israel came to America from Ukraine in 1906, at the age of 8, with his mother, 3 older sisters, and younger brother. His father and 2 older brothers were already in Brooklyn. As a boy, he was a cantor, which is what the "C" refers to in his name. He took a shot at amateur boxing and vaudeville, as well as being a reporter and salesman. Even though he was one of the youngest children in the family, he became the unofficial head of the family. According to his 1920 US passport application, he was only 22 years old and his employer was trusting him to travel around war torn Europe to see if there was a market for hosiery yet.
In 2002, National Public Radio aired a special series, Yiddish Radio Project. One episode was dedicated to Uncle Israel...actor Carl Reiner did the English translation. I don't understand Yiddish but it sounds like he was very animated as he was dishing out advice to his listeners. He was just as enthusiastic when plugging his longtime sponsor, Carnation Milk. They were so pleased with his promotions they awarded him a pension when he retired. See http://yiddishradioproject.org/ for more information about Uncle Israel and other Yiddish radio stars.
From the stories I've heard, it was difficult to find a larger ego than Uncle Israel's. I firmly believe that before he died, he told his wife to make sure to put his age as 90 on his headstone so it would look like he lived longer than everyone else in the family plot. He was actually 87 when he died. Turns out cousin Ethel beat him...she died in 2006 at the age of 93. He was strict with the boys. My dad remembers that he had to look directly at Uncle Israel while he was speaking to you or he'd grab your chin and turn your head back towards him. He doted on the girls though, especially my dad's sister Linda. He was just a big softie around those blond curls. Linda gets very emotional when we talk about him. Being a big shot did have its advantages. My dad remembers when, as a teenager, he was in the hospital with appendicitis. The hospital wouldn't operate because they didn't have insurance. Uncle Israel stepped in and made sure things were taken care of.