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November 22, 1991 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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4

Past Imperfect, Ms. Collins
recalls her love for her
father .as "intense. At
nursery school I told the
other kids that my father
was the tallest and hand-
somest man in the world.
Handsome he was, with jet-
black curly hair which he
would slick flat to his head
with three layers of
Brylcreem, dark-brown
flashing eyes and a finely
chiseled profile. Tall? Well,
hardly. One day I realized
to my disappointment that
my father was only about
5 feet 10 inches."
By the time she was 15,
Joan was taking classes at
the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Art. She loved
boys, but didn't go beyond
looking. "God forbid a well-
brought up half-Jewish girl
would do anything as grav-
ely taboo as 'go all the
way,' " she writes.
Ms. Collins made her
first film appearance in
Lady Godiva Rides Again,
in which she had one line.
Her first starring role was
in I Believe in You, with an
up-and-coming Jewish
actor named Laurence
Harvey (see below).
Throughout her long ca-
reer, Ms. Collins has ap-
peared in many "man-
eating roles," exemplified
by films like The Stud. She
has been linked with many
leading men including ex-
husband Anthony Newley
(who is halachically Jewish,
but considers himself "in-
tellectually a Zen Bud-
dhist"), and with whom she
has a son, Sacha.

Most recently, Ms. Col-
lins starred as the wonder-
fully wicked Alexis Carr-
ington Colby on "Dynas-
ty."

OLIVIA DE HAVIL-
LAND and JOAN FON-
TAINE have a mysterious
background to which even
they have few details. In her
autobiography, Ms. Fontaine
says she knew little of her
mother's family.

But according to author
Charles Higham, the ac-
tresses have one Jewish
grandparent.
In his book Sisters: The

Story of Olivia de
Havilland and Joan Fon-
taine, Mr. Higham
discusses their father's
troubled relationship with
his daughters. At one
point, Walter de Havilland
flew to Los Angeles to meet
with the two, but they
refused to see him. Mr. de
Havilland subsequently
complained to The
Hollywood Reporter that
Ms. de Havilland and Ms.
Fontaine had been against
their father since
childhood, their minds
poisoned by their "half-Jew
mother."
Both women found fame
and fortune as actresses
during the 1930s through
the 1950s. Ms. Fontaine
starred in Rebecca with
Laurence Olivier and won
an Academy Award for
Suspicion, in which she
appeared with Cary Grant
(see below). Ms. de
Havilland was Melanie in
Gone with the Wind and
won an Academy Award
for her portrayal of a spin-
ster in The Heiress.

ROBERT DE NIRO
was born in 1943 to an
Italian father and a Jewish
mother, both of whom were
artists in New York.
Mr. de Niro was raised in
New York's Little Italy,
where he was a rebellious
youth who dropped out of
high school to study acting
with Stella Adler and Lee
Strasberg. He quickly
found parts in off-
Broadway plays and low-
budget films, making his
debut in the 1969 movie
The Wedding Party.

In 1973, Mr. de Niro
starred in Bang . the Drum
Slowly, which marks the
beginning of his cinema ca-
reer beyond the low-budget
films. He next appeared in
Mean Streets with another
young Jewish actor named
Harvey Keitel (see below).
Other films include The

Deer Hunter, Taxi
Driver and Falling in Love.
Mr. de Niro has won
Academy Awards for his
role as Vito Corleone in
The Godfather Part II and
as boxer Jake La Motta in
Raging Bull. He has por-
trayed Jews in two films,
Once Upon a Time in Ame-
rica, the story of the rise of
Jewish gangsters, and The
Last Tycoon.

PETER FALK, televi-
sion's incomparable Detec-
tive Columbo, was born
and raised in New York.
His first stage appearance
was at 12, when he starred
in a camp version of The

Pirates of Penzance.
Mr. Falk received a
bachelor's degree in polit-
ical science and hoped to
join the CIA, but was not
accepted. He took a job as a
management analyst in
Connecticut. In the 1950s,
when Mr. Falk was in his
late 20s, he decided to
study acting.
Mr. Falk made his film
debut in 1958; his
breakthrough came in
1961 when he appeared as
a gangster (a role he would
often assume in movies) in
Pocketful of Miracles.
On stage, Mr. Falk per-
formed in The Iceman
Cometh and The Prisoner
of Second Avenue; his film
credits include Murder,
Inc., The Great Race, Wings
of Desire and The In-Laws.

HARRISON FORD, the
suave swashbuckler of
"Indiana Jones" fame, is
the son of a Russian Jewish
mother and an Irish
Catholic father. He is the
top-grossing actor in movie
history.
Mr. Ford was born in
1942 in Chicago to a family
that included a television
commercial producer (his
father) and a vaudeville
star (his grandfather). As a
child, Harrison loved

sports but had little inter-
est in school. He appeared
in student productions
while studying at Ripon
College in Wisconsin,
where he decided to make
acting his career.
After college, Mr. Ford
moved to Hollywood where
he appeared in John
Brown's Body at a Laguna
Beach, Calif., playhouse. A
Columbia Pictures scout
saw Mr. Ford and signed
him to a $150-a-week con-
tract.
Mr. Ford's first film was

in The Postman Always

Rings Twice, Body and
Soul and Gentleman's
Agreement, in which he
played the Jewish friend of
Gregory Peck.
Throughout his life, Mr.
Garfield ignored his heart
trouble, including heart at-
tacks in 1944, 1947 and
1950. He died in New York
in 1952. He was 39.

.

Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-
Round, made in 1966,
several years after which
Columbia dropped him. He
then turned to a career in
carpentry, which he had
learned from books and by
working on a home he
remodeled in Hollywood
Hills.
Meanwhile, a former
Columbia agent approach-
ed Mr. Ford about a new
movie, a George Lucas-
Francis Ford Coppola film
called American Graffiti.
Despite this successful ap-
pearance, along with roles
in The Conversation and the
TV movie The Trial of
Lieutenant Galley, Mr. Ford
continued to work as a
carpenter until 1977. That
year, he was cast as Han
Solo in Star Wars.
In addition to the Star
Wars series, Mr. Ford has
appeared in Raiders of the
Lost Ark and its sequels, as
well as Witness and The
Frisco Kid, in which he
played a robber who
befriends a rabbi heading
out West.

JOHN GARFIELD, a
leading tough-guy actor of
the 1940s, was born Jacob
Garfinkle in New York in
1913. Both his parents
were Russian immigrants;
his father worked
weekends as a cantor.
Encouraged by his high
school principal, John Gar-
field began studying acting
at the American Laborato-
ry Theater. Meanwhile, he
worked as assistant social
director at a Catskills
resort.
Mr. Garfield made his
film debut in 1938, when
he appeared in Four
Daughters for Warner
Brothers. He later starred

KATHIE LEE GIF-
FORD, cohost with Regis
Philbin of "Live With
Regis and Kathie Lee,"
was born in 1953 in Paris.
Since age 12 a born-again
Christian, Kathie Lee is
the daughter of a gentile
mother and a Jewish
father, Aaron Epstein.
As a child, Mrs. Gifford
remembers attending plays
with her parents and put-
ting on her own theatrical
presentation starring her
dog, Zorro. At 14, she form-
ed a singing group, Penn-
sylvania Next Right, and
performed in coffeehouses
throughout the country. In
1971, she was named
Maryland's Junior Miss.
Her big break came while
Mrs. Gifford was visiting a
friend on the set of the
daytime program "Days of
Our Lives." A producer
noticed her and asked,
"Can you act?" Her role as
Nurse Callahan lasted one
year.
After appearing in Las
Vegas and on television,
Mrs. Gifford became a
substitute host for Joan
Lunden on "Good Morning
America." She left that
position to join "Regis and
Kathie Lee," which made
its debut in 1985.

BRUCE GORDON's

biggest claim to fame was
starring as Frank Nitti in
the 1950s TV series, "The
Untouchables," forever
frustrating the always-
perfect Eliot Ness.
Mr. Gordon, born in
1919, also starred in a
number of films including
Hello Down There. In the
1970s, he operated a pizza
joint, Frank Nitti's Place,
in his hometown of Kansas
City, Mo.

CARY GRANT was
born Archibald Alexander

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