Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:
Bob Hope left his mark on Jewish comedy
and the Jewish community.
Atlanta Jewish Times
omedian Bob Hope, who
died July 27, 2003, at 100,
was not Jewish — but his
comedy, inescapably, was.
The British-born Protestant referred
to the Academy Awards, which he
hosted 13 times, as "Passover" because
he never won an Oscar. And through-
out his career, Hope employed Jewish
Hal Kanter, for instance, co-wrote a
dozen screenplays for Hope; Leo
Robin and Robert Rainger wrote his
signature tune, "Thanks
for the Memory"; and
Norman Panama and
Melvin Frank wrote the
screenplay for The Road to
Melville Shavelson directed
Hope in perhaps his best
dramatic film, The Seven
wasn't manic. He wasn't up there
sweating. There was a sense of being in
control. He looked the camera in the
eye; and he let the audience in on the
joke, as if to say, this is only a movie
about nothing — let's have some fun."
This style paved the way for Jewish
comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, said
But Hope's legacy is richer than
comedy alone. He performed during a
century fraught with war and conflict
— often in venues his peers avoided.
Hope not only visited burn units
and hospitals on hundreds of military
bases worldwide — performing for
"On the simplest level,
the New York wise guy
approach to humor
appealed to him," said
Lawrence J. Epstein,
author of The Haunted
Smile: The Story of Jewish
Comedians in America.
Bob Hope entertains the troops.
Hope was ridiculed as a
child because of his real
first name — Leslie — so he became a
troops who needed a laugh as desper-
master of the one-line zinger, which
ately as he craved their applause. He
allowed him to "put on a brave front
also raised money to aid Jewish
even though he [was] chicken under-
refugees of the Holocaust at a rally in
neath," said Epstein.
York's Madison Square Garden
on March 13, 1944, a move that took
one of Hope's greatest gifts to comedi-
ans, said Epstein. "You see it in Woody political courage since it went against
the wartime policies of the Roosevelt
Allen has said that Hope is the
"It was at the invitation of screen-
comedian he most admired because of
Ben Hecht," said Epstein. "It
his "brilliant gift of delivery, breezy
wasn't a popular time, but Hope was a
attitude" and light-as-air witticisms, he
wrote in his 1993 memoir.
"And by rallying troops around the
"He made it look so easy, too,"
in World War II, on a deeper
could say he was helping Jews
Unlike many comics who preceded
him, including Groucho Marx, "Hope
LEONARD BANOVITZ, 90, of
Southfield and Acapulco, Mexico,
died July 29, 2003.
He was a founding
member and past
president of Tam
Mr. Banovitz was
a graduate of the
School and mem-
ber of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. He
was also a past member of the bar pf
the state of Illinois, a Rotarian, a col-
legiate swimmer, gymnast and Greco-
Roman wrestler. In addition, he was
an outstanding ballroom dancer,
golfer and fisherman.
Mr. Banovitz is survived by his
daughters, Judy Roth of West
Bloomfield, Beverly Banovitz of
Southfield; sister, Beatrice Balin of
Milwaukee, Wis.; grandchildren, Dr.
Bruce (Stacy) Roth, Dr. Brian
(Victoria) Roth, Lisa (Dr. Mark)
Alexandra, Ryan, Eden, Michael,
Elijah, Sara and Sophia; sister-in-law,
Dorothy Fields. He was the beloved
husband of the late Millie Banovitz;
father-in-law of the late Sandy Roth.
Interment at Clover Hill Park
Cemetery. Contributions may be
made to ALS of Michigan, 8521
Lyndon St., Suite 200, Detroit, MI
48238. Arrangements by Dorfman
SHIRLEY BERG, 82, of Southfield,
died July 25, 2003. She was a motel
executive and an active volunteer with
the American Arthritis Foundation.
Mrs. Berg is survived by her
cousins, Marilyn and Paul Silverstein
of West Bloomfield; dear friends, Sue
Thomas and Robert Gracely. She was
the beloved wife of the late Joseph
Interment at Machpelah Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to the
American Cancer Society or Juvenile
Diabetes Association. Arrangements
by Ira Kaufman Chapel.
BERNARD "GEORGE" BLAIR, 76,
of Southfield, died July 26, 2003.
He is survived by his sons and
daughter-in-law, Michael and Michele
Blair and Mark Blair; daughter, Beth
Blair Seigel; sister, Zeata Nyman of
Southfield; grandchildren, Vanessa
and Amy Blair, Justin Seigel; compan-
ion, Barbara Keidan. He was the
beloved husband of the late Kathleen
Blair. Interment at
Beth El Memorial
be made to a charity
of one's choice.
95, of West Bloomfield, died July 27,
2003. She was a bookkeeper for Art's
Hardware and Sporting Goods.
Mrs. Cohon is survived by her son
and daughter-in-law, Edward and
Laura Cohon of Walled Lake; grand-
children Scott and Annat Cohon,
Robert and Jennifer Cohon; great-
grandchildren, Marc and Shayna
Cohon. She was the beloved wife of
the late Abe Cohon; dear sister of the
late Celia Newman and the late Polly
Interment at Machpelah Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to a char-
ity of one's choice. Arrangements by
Ira Kaufman Chapel.
NATALIA DRIGANT, 55, of
Farmington Hills, died July 21, 2003.
She is survived by her husband,
Boris Drigant; father, Naum Levin;
daughter and son-in-law, Marina and
Ashok Madhavan of Troy; grandchil-
dren, Sidharth, Soniya. She was the
loving daughter of the late Asya
Contributions may be made to
Jewish National Fund, Tri County
Collie Rescue or the Michigan
Humane Society, 7401 Chrysler
Service Dr., Detroit, MI 48211.
Interment at Hebrew Memorial Park.
Arrangements by Hebrew Memorial
DAVID DUNN, of Westland, died
July 24, 2003. He was a lighting sales-
man, member of Perfection Lodge, a
World War II Army Air Corps veter-
an, a sergeant aerial cameraman and
was awarded the Victory Medal,
American Theatre Ribbon, Asiatic
Pacific Theatre Ribbon, Overseas
Service Bar and a Good Conduct
Mr. Dunn is survived by his son
and daughter-in-law, Craig and Forest
Dunn of Iowa; grandchildren, Frank
Dunn, Summer and David Porter,
Crystl Schumacher; great-grandchil-
dren, Abbreeanna Schmacher; sister-
in-law, Sonia Dunn. He was the
beloved husband of the late Barbara
Dunn; cherished son of the late Louis
and the late Sarah Dunn; devoted
brother of the late Abner Dunn and