Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →