Tell Me Why
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48" ROUND DINING TABLE
An "adult film" star and other celebrities with a Jewish connection.
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
PANEL END COCKTAIL
Q: Tell me, Tell Me Why, what
current celebrities have Jewish
roots? We already know those el-
ders like Tony Curtis and Kirk Dou-
From reader M.N. in Norcross,
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A: You mean you don't want
to hear more about Tony Cur-
tis — artist, intellectual, suave
bon vivant, the man perhaps
best known as "the actor's ac-
All right then, let's swing!
For starters, how about porn
star Tracey Lords? She's the
daughter of a Jewish father and
a gentile mother. Another porn
— excuse me, I mean "adult en-
tertainment" star we all know
and love, Harry Reems, was
born Jewish, but now is a prac-
Singer David Bowie has Jew-
ish ancestry, while Pearl Jam's
lead singer, Eddie Vedder, is
Jewish (who could forget his
profound statement at the
award for Pearl Jam he said, "I
don't know what this means. I
don't think it means anything").
Adam Durwitz, lead singer for
Counting Crows, is Jewish, and
so is Mark Knopfler of the
British group Dire Straits. Lots
of the Beach Boys are Jewish
(all those with the last name
Wilson), though none are prac-
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Michael Bolton: Being Jewish is a
ticing. And two members
of that great band, the
Beastie Boys, are Jewish
(aren't we proud!).
The ever-perky Kathie
Lee Gifford (born Epstein)
has a Jewish father and a
gentile mother, as do Joan
and Jackie Collins, direc-
tor Oliver Stone, Paul,
Newman, actor Kevin
Kline and actress Phoebe
Cates (now husband and
wife). Radio talk-show host
Howard Stern identifies as
"halfJewish"; he is the son
of a gentile mother and a
Niro, Peretz Hirschbein's grave at Hollywood
Matthew Broderick, Ger- Memorial Park Cemetery.
aldo Rivera and Harrison
Q:l'm looking for the name of a
Ford all have a Jewish moth-
playwright who translated
er and a gentile father.
Despite his TV name Tolstoy's stories into Yiddish. Does
"Columbo," Peter Falk is Jew- Tell Me Why remember his name?
ish, and so is Noah Wyle of
A:His name was Peretz
"ER." (Too bad George Clooney Hirschbein (1880-1948) and he
isn't, but it's never to late to talk was, for many years, a leading
to him about converting.)
Yiddish dramatist and novel-
Billy Joel is Jewish and so is ist.
David Lee Roth (wasn't that a
He was born in eastern
great decision to leave Van Poland and was writing stories
Halen? His career has taken off and poems by the time he was
ever since!). Tina Louise ("Gin- 18. He later Moved to Warsaw,
ger" from "Gilligan's Island" — and became friends with Hayy-
who could forget that great im Nachman Biala, I.L. Peretz
show?) also is Jewish, and so is and Sholom Asch.
film's perennial rotten guy,
Hirschbein's first Yiddish
play was Across the River
Olivia Newton-John had a (1905). Three years later, he
Jewish grandfather, German headed a group that saw to the
physicist and Nobel Prize win- production of Yiddish plays
ner Max Born, and so did Cary throughout Russia. After the -
group disbanded, Hirschbein
They often wear necklaces of began to travel. He went every-
large, dangling crosses, but both where, searching out small
Goldie Hawn and Winona Ry- Jewish communities, before
der are Jewish. Goldie is the settling in New York.
daughter of a Jewish mother
In addition to Across the Riv-
and a gentile father; Winona er, Hirschbein was the author
was born Winona Horwitz, and of Green Fields, Red Fields,
both her parents are Jewish.
Babylonia, Monologues and
A few other incomparable tal- The Haunted Inn, produced in
ents who are Jewish: actor An- New York in 1914. He also
drew "Dice" Clay, actress Debra translated into Yiddish works
Winger (whom Bette Davis her- by Russian novelist Leo Tol-
self selected to play in any film stoy.
made of her life), "Get Smart"
star Don Adams, magician Hirschbein is buried in Los An-
David Copperfield, singer geles in the same cemetery that
Michael Bolton, Dr. Joyce is the final resting place of
Brothers, Shari Lewis, "Mod Rudolph Valentino, mobster
Squad" star Peggy Lipton, and Benjamin "Don't call me
soap greats Robin Strasser of Bugsy"' Siegel, and "Petey," the
"One Life to Live," and Stuart white pooch with the black ring
Damon, also known as Alan around his eyes who appeared
Quartermaine, and Emma in numerous "Our Gang" films.
Samms, both from "General
An interesting note: film di- Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
rector Spike Lee has a Jewish c I o The Jewish News, 27676
stepmother, with whom he re- Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
portedly does not get along.
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.