Jewish Names and Hollywood

December 20, 2011 10:23 am 3 comments

President Ronald Reagan with actor Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne Buydens. Photo: White House.

As kids we appeared in Winnipeg’s Hebrew Theater. The comic-writer and director David Steinberg went on to fame in Hollywood. At one time he held the record as guest hosting the Johnny Carson Show more than anyone else. His career includes aid in writing and directing such television mega hits as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Friends and Designing Women. David has written The Book of David –much recommended.

Alvin Blye a singing sensation of the Hebrew Theater went on to become the producer of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. We had some interesting theater in Winnipeg but coming to the U.S. opened new horizons.

David Steinberg was one of the first actors to retain his Jewish name. Barbra Streisand was another. David was a close friend of a budding young actor, Elliot Gould and his then wife, Barbara Streisand. We brought Barbra to a night club in Winnipeg, it was at the start of her career. Her gig didn’t work out.

Barbra also resisted the temptation to change her name despite the urging of agents and producers. We thought you’d like to reminisce–here are some who did.

1. Asa Yolsen became Al Jolsen
2. Milton Berlinger became Milton Berle
3. Fanny Borach became Fanny Brice
4. Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis
5. Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan
6. Ethel Zimmerman became Ethel Merman
7. Elliot Goldstein (David’s basket ball buddy) became Elliot Gould
8. Israel Baline became Irving Berlin
9. Sephanie Federkrewcz became Stephanie Powers
10. Belle Silverman became Beverly Sills
11. Betty Joan Perske became Lauren Bacall
12. Nathan Birnbaum became George Burns
13. David Daniel Kaminsky became Danny Kaye
14. Edward Israel Iskowitz became Eddie Cantor
15. Benjamin Kubelsky became Jack Benny
16. Michael Orowitz became Michael Landon
17. Allen Stewart Konigsberg became Woody Allen
18. Isser Danielovitch Demsky became Kirk Douglas
19. Sophia Kalish became Sophie Tucker (according to the World  Almanac)
20. Joseph Gottleib became Joey Bishop
21. Natasha Gurdin became Natalie Wood
22. Lyova Geisman became Lee Grant
23. Joyce Penelope Frankenburg became Jane Seymour
24. Joseph Levitch became Jerry Lewis
25. Melvin Kaminsky became Mel Brooks
26. Elaine Berlin became Elaine May
27. Michael Peschkowsky became Mike Nichols
28. Gerald Silberman became Gene Wilder
29. Jacob Cohen became Rodney Dangerfield
30. Joan Molinsky became Joan Rivers
31. Borge Rosenbaum became Victor Borge
32. Amos Jacob became Lee J. Cobb
33. Lazlo Lowenstein became Peter Lorre
34. Emanual Goldenberg became Edward G. Robinson
35. Judith Tuvim became Judy Holliday
36. Ira Grossel became Jeff Chandler
37. Melvyn Hesselberg became Melvyn Douglas
38. Ivo Levi became Yves Montand
39. Simone-Henriette Kaminker became Simone Signoret
40. Marion Levy became Paulette Goddard
41. Karen Blanche Ziegler became Karen Black
42. Ella Geisman became June Allyson
43.Sidney Leibowitz became Steve Lawrence
44. Abraham Isaac Arshawsky became Artie Shaw
45. Joe Katz became Joel Grey
46. Paul Rubenfeld became Pee-Wee Herman
47. Julius Garfinkle became John Garfield
48. Leonard Rosenberg became Tony Randall
49. David Kotkin became David Copperfield
50. Howard Cohen became Howard Cosell
51 Bernice Frankel became Bea Arthur
53. Albert Einstein became Albert Brooks
54. My Greenwich neighbor Beryl (Bert) Jacobson became Bert Parks
55. Alan Kuperschmidt became Al Kooper and with a little more luck…..
56. Joe Leiberman could have become Vice President

It’s not what in a name that makes you succeed, it’s your ability to Smile. Then the whole world is your stage.

3 Comments

  • Виваком терориризират клиенти

  • was David Steinberg from the north end or south end in Winnipeg?

    another major export from Winnipeg was John Hirsch of the Manitoba Theatre Center. i grew up on his productions. amazing creativity.

  • I don’t think most people would have pegged “Streisand” as a Jewish name necessarily. It doesn’t sound like anything in particular. Germanic, I suppose. Probably too long for a marquee back in the day.

    Ethel Zimmerman (Ethel Merman), Sephanie Federkrewcz (Stephanie Powers), Natasha Gurdin (Natalie Wood), Ivo Levi (Yves Montand), Karen Blanche Ziegler (Karen Black), and Ella Geisman (June Allyson) – these people were not and are not Jewish.

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