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July 26, 1996 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-26

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

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Good Going, Ace

Leaving podiatry for the world of Max Katz.

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Q: Our bar-mitzvah age son re- Laib Morgenstern, was famous
cently shocked us when he an- for the vanishing bird-cage trick.
S. Leo Horowitz (1891-
nounced that his lifelong dream of
becoming a podiatrist is over. In- 1971), who performed as Mo-
stead, he wants to be — dare I even hammed Bey, did excellent
close-up work, as did Nate
say it — a magician.
Leipzig (1873-1939), born
"You have a future in
Nathan Leipziger in Swe-
feet, not in card tricks," my
den.
husband wisely exhorted.
Max Katz (1891-1956)
But the boy won't listen.
invented the "turning
I told my son that the
aces" illusion.
only magic Jews do is sur-
Max Malini (1873-
viving, and that we still Harry Houdini:
need to earn a living. He And you thought 1942), born Max Breit in
Poland, amazed audiences
told us that plenty of Jews, Jewish boys
by being able to produce
and not just David Copper- were only
bulky objects, often a block
field, have been magicians doctors and
of ice, from under a bor-
and made good money at it. lawyers?
rowed hat.
Could he be right?
A: He sure is. Guess you'll
Q: I am in love with the most dar-
have to get your toenails clipped
ling man in the world. Last week I
by someone else.
Magic (not in the anthropo- fixed dinner for him and his family,
logical sense, but as a form of en- which his mother promptly described
tertainment), is a branch of as "geshmacht."
My parents were born in the Unit-
show business where Jews have
ed States, as were my grandparents,
been prominent for decades.
The greatest of the Jewish so I know next to nothing of Yiddish,
magicians — some would say, though of course I didn't want to tell
the greatest magician of all time my sweetheart this. The problem is,
— was Harry Houdini (1874- I have no idea what my future moth-
1926). Born Eric Weisz in Hun- er-in-law (or so I hope) thought of
gary, the grandson of a rabbi, he the food, though she seemed to en-
took the name Harry Houdini joy it.
What do you say, Tell Me Why,
when his family settled in New
York. Without doubt, he was the will I be under the chuppah with this
world's foremost escape artist, dear boy?
A: You will if cooking has any-
breaking out of the most durable
shackles, handcuffs, ropes, thing to do with it. Rest assured,
chains and prison cells. As a ma- your beau's mother extended
gician, he baffled audiences with you the highest compliment. She
his "metamorphosis" act in said your food was, in the ver-
which, in a matter of seconds, nacular, "s0000 tasty."
Q: My mother-in-law loves
he changed places with his as-
sistant. He even made an ele- celebrity gossip. She watches all the
phant disappear. He also acted chatty, pseudo-news television
in films and, unknown to many shows like "Day and Date" and
today, was a pioneer airplane pi- "Hard Copy," and she reads all those
tabloids and magazines like TheNa-
lot.
Houdini died in Detroit //anal Enquirer, Vanity Fairand Peo-
(though he is buried in New ple.
She swears that Zsa Zsa Gabor is
York), where regular seances
are still held in an effort to vis- Jewish. To me, Miss Gabor is just
it with his spirit. (Ironically, a no-talent with a heavy accent.
Does Tell Me Why know if Zsa Zsa
Houdini spent much of his life
disproving "mediums" who is one of us?
A: Of all the celebrities your
claimed to make contact with
mother-in-law could want to be
the dead.)
Among other notable Amer- Jewish, she had to pick the star
of that 1958 classic, Queen of
ican Jewish magicians:
Horace Goldin (1874-1939), Outer Space, who was sent to jail
born Chayim Goldstein in for slapping a Los Angeles po-
Poland, invented many well- liceman and on national TV told
known illusions, among which David Letterman to kiss her be-
was sawing a woman in half. He hind? We don't have enough
later enhanced the act by using trouble already?
Neither Zsa Zsa nor her sis-
a large, electric circular saw.
Carl Hertz (1859-1924), born ters Eva and Magda ever even

hinted at being Jewish. But
while the name Gabor is typi-
cally Hungarian, it is not un-
known among Jews. Andor
Gabor (1884-1941) was a well-
known novelist, poet and play-
wright. Dennis Gabor
(1900-1979), a physicist, in-
vented holography. As far as we
know, neither was related to Zsa
Zsa.
Superficially, the Gabor fam-
ily had traits that could fit in
with a pattern ofJewish life. Zsa
78a's parents, Vilmos Gabor and
Jolie Tilleman Gabor, came from
prosperous merchant families,
mainly in the jewelry business.
Prior to entering the business
world, Vilmos was an officer in
the Hungarian army, where it
was by no means uncommon for
Jews to serve.
In an interview published in
the Sept. 2, 1967, edition of TV
Guide, Eva Gabor claimed to be
a devout Catholic: "I go to a lit-
tle Catholic church every morn-
ing on my way to work."
Yet a former neighbor insists
the girls were born Jewish.
Before World War II, the
Gabors lived on Ilka Street in
Budapest. The Tauber family
resided nearby. Many of the
Taubers perished in the Holo-
caust, but among the survivors
is Dr. Laszlo Tauber of Virginia,
surgeon and millionaire real-es-
tate developer. In a 1984 edition
of the Forbes Four Hundred
magazine, Dr. Tauber said that
he and everyone else in the
neighborhood knew the Gabors
were Jewish.
And still a third possibility ex-
ists: that the Gabors, while per-
haps not Jewish themselves,
had Jewish ancestors. In his
1985 profile of the Gabor fami-
ly, Such Devoted Sisters: Those
Fabulous Gabors, author Peter
Harry Brown stated that Zsa
Zsa's mother, Jolie, had a "trace
ofJewish blood." The book in-
cludes photographs of the Gabor
family, in Hungary, celebrating
Easter. 0

Send questions to Tell Me Why,
The Jewish News, 27676
Franklin Road, Southfield, MI
48034, or fax to (810) 354-6069.
All letters must be signed and in-
clude the writer's address. Ques-
tions answered in the column will
feature only the writer's initials
and city of residence.

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