During the interwar period, about 5,000 inhabitants lived in Joniškis, of which 900 were Jewish (almost a fifth of the total population). During the period of independent Lithuania, the Jewish community in Joniškis flourished, it had a Jewish Bank, a bathhouse (mikva), a bookstore “Mendel” and a cinema “Lira”. Most of the Jews lived in the centre of Joniškis, around the market square, and in the main streets of Livonia, Upytė and Šiauliai. Some of the Jews were engaged in trade, although the historical documents mention various Jewish professions. Photographer Jokūbas Fišeris lived here, who was also the owner of the cinema “Lira”. At that time, it was a huge innovation in the city, which brought the townspeople together. However, not only this cinema became the pride of the Joniškis people. Well-known film actor Laurence Harvey (real name – Zvi Mosheh Skikne) comes from here. He was the actor, who created the main role in the famous film “Room at the top” (dir. Jack Clayton, 1959) and was nominated for an Oscar and received a BAFTA award, was born in Joniškis in 1928. Rumours spread, that the famous actor, who spent his childhood in Joniškis, fell in love with cinema here. The Harvey family emigrated to Union of South Africa in 1934 and after the Second World War, moved to Great Britain. There, Harvey began his theatre and film career. After filming in his first film (House of Darkness, 1948, dir. Osvaldas Mičelas), he was known at the time as Larry Skikne, the actor was asked by the producers to change his name and eventually became Laurence Harvey. Unfortunately, films featuring Harvey were not shown in this or any other Lithuanian cinema due to Soviet censorship.
In 1960 he participated in a television game in which four blindfolded players asked him yes-and-no questions about life and work to guess which famous person he was interacting with. What made the guesswork very difficult for the players was that Harvey denied being from Britain or the US. When it finally turned out to be Harvey, he repeated several times that he was born in Lithuania.