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.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.