Posted by: coastcontact | June 8, 2014

‘FUN Factoids’ of Olde Time Jewish Celebrities

* Who was the First Movie Star?

Maxwell Henry Aronson aka ‘Broncho Billy Anderson’ (March 21, 1880), had three minor roles in one of the first movies, the 10 minute 1903 ‘The Great Train Robbery. Soon Max began to write, direct and act in his own westerns. Founding his own studio in 1907, Anderson acted in over 300 short films but gained huge popularity as Broncho Billy in 148 silent western shorts.


* Why Did ‘Jack Benny’ write his Autobiography in the 1960’s and then buy the rights back from his publisher and hide it?

His daughter Joan says she found the manuscript after her mother died in 1983€¦the story she heard was that Jack’s wife Mary (Sadye Marks) Livingstone objected because Jack (born Feb. 14, 1894) had so many stories of his olde girlfriends in it! Joan published it.


* Who was a catcher for the Boston Red Sox, spoke 7 languages and a spy for the OSS?

‘Moe Berg’ (March 2, 1902) played 15 seasons in the majors mostly as a back-up catcher€¦ In the off seasons he traveled extensively around the world….including two trips to Japan. It turned out he had been working for the OSS as a spy for the U.S. on those trips. In 1943/44, and speaking German like a native he was touring Nazi occupied Europe, on a spy mission. He had to determine if the Germans were close to an ‘A’ bomb, in which case he was charged with murdering the Nazi scientists who were developing it!


* Who was BEST Ventriloquist ever and created the First Artificial Heart?

The most famous ventriloquist was Edgar Bergen he was also the worst. The Best was ‘Paul Winchell’ (Dec. 21, 1922) Paul Wilchinsky who as Paul Winchell with his wooden partner Jerry Mahoney had their own TV Shows in the 1950’s and made many appearances on all the popular variety shows of the time¦.Paul NEVER moved his lips! Paul was also an actor and inventor. He has many medical patents including the device which was exactly the same as the ‘Jarvik’ heart.


* Who was the FIRST ‘Method Actor’, the FIRST ‘Bad Boy’ Movie Actor & had the ‘Largest Funeral’ of any celebrity since Rudolf Valentino?

Jacob Julius Garfinkle aka ‘John Garfield’ (March 4, 1913) grew up in poverty on the Lower East Side. If I hadn’t been an actor I might have become Public Enemy #1’. ‘Cutting his teeth’ at the Group Theatre. Garfield on Broadway and in the Movies was an early great proponent of the ‘Method’ acting. He was the predecessor of the Monty Clift, Marlon Brando & James Dean school of acting. With a bad heart and the stress of possibly losing his career because of being named to the ‘Black List.’ John Garfield died of a massive heart attack at 39. Over 10,000 people crowded outside the cemetery at his funeral.


* What Famous Movie of 1942 cast 4 Jews, an Irishman & a German as California Mexicans?

Tortilla Flat, from the famous book by John Steinbeck, was a movie about a bunch of poor Monterrey, CA. Mexicans that just sit around and ‘kvetch’ all day. The cast consisted of 4 Jews: ‘Hedy Lamarr’ (Nov. 9, 1914) a Viennese Jew with a strong German accent, ‘John Garfield’ & ‘Sheldon Leonard’ (Feb. 22, 1907) both Jews with strong New York accents and ‘Akim Tamiroff ‘(Oct. 29, 1899) a Russian Jew with a strong Russian Accent. In addition the very Irish Spencer Tracy and the German American Frank Morgan!!!…. not a decent Mexican accent in the bunch.


* What Film played a N.Y.C. neighborhood theatre in the early 1950’s that put this up on it’s marquee: Starring ‘Bernard Schwartz and Rosetta Jacobs’?

‘The Prince who was a Thief starred ‘Tony Curtis’ (June 3, 1925) and ‘Piper Laurie’ (Jan. 22, 1932). Both were locals born on the lower Eastside of N.Y.


* What nice Jewish girl left Darren Aronofsky to marry ‘James Bond’???

‘Rachel Weisz’, born March 7, 1970 and now married to Daniel Craig.


* What Jewish girl at 19 hung out with Hitler & Mussolini, married a ‘semi-Nazi munitions dealer, made a ‘semi-porno film’ that got world wide release, ran off to Paris & London where she met Louis B. Meyer & became one of MGM’s biggest stars, was called ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World’, helped invent a process called ‘Frequency Hopping’ used in military code machines & cell phones AND sued ‘Blazing Saddles’ for making fun of her name?

Eva Maria Kiesler aka ‘Hedy Lamarr’ born November 9, 1914 in Austria.


* What famous stand-up comic saw his first movie, ‘Shane’, as a little kid sitting in the lap of singer ‘Billie Holiday’ at the Lowe’s Commodore, N.Y.C.

‘Billy Crystal’ (March 14, 1948)


* Who was the first & greatest Swashbuckling Movie Hero Known as the First King of Hollywood?

Thomas Ullman aka ‘Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.’ (May 23, 1883)


* What two famous actors of the Yiddish Stage became Movie Super Stars playing Italian Gangsters?

Emanuel Goldenberg aka ‘Edward G. Robinson (Dec. 12, 1893) with ‘Little Caesar’ in 1931.

Muni Weisenfreund aka ‘Paul Muni’ (Sept. 22, 1895) with ‘Scarface’ in 1932.


* Who was the first ‘Professional’ Baseball Player?

‘Emanuel Lipman Pike’ (May 25, 1845) and in 1866 he accepted $20. a week to play.


* What Famous Superstar…as a kid in the 1930’s would pee off the roof of the N.Y.C. tenements on top of parading American Nazi’s?

Bernie Schwartz, aka ‘Tony Curtis’ (June 3, 1925).


* What famous Hollywood leading lady missed out on playing ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ in Gone with the Wind….over her affair with Charlie Chaplin?

Marion Pauline Levy aka ‘Paulette Goddard’ (June 3, 1910). Producer David O. Selznick was afraid Paulette’s fooling around with Charlie would hurt the box office of the movie so decided against casting her.


* What famous TV star hung one of his young writers out an 18 story window until they agreed on whether a joke was funny?

Sid Caesar (Sept. 8, 1922) hung his writer Melvin Kaminsky ‘Mel Brooks’ (June 28, 1926) out the window until the other writers restrained Sid!


* What Famous Stand-up once asked Frank Sinatra to stop by his table (in Vegas) to help the comic impress a girl…later when Sinatra stopped to say hello the comic said.. ‘Not Now Frank, Can’t You See I’m With Somebody’???

Only the impish Don Rickles (May 8, 1926) had the guts!


* What silent film star, known as ‘The Vamp’, was the first movie ‘Femme Fatale’?

Theodosia Burr Goodman aka ‘Theda Bara’ (July 29, 1885) and at her height she was ranked in popularity behind only Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplain.


* What Famous Movie Star had ‘Two’ of the world’s largest and finest privately owned art collections in the world?

Edward G. Robinson (Dec. 12, 1893). In 1956 he was forced to sell his first art collection, as part of his divorce settlement. Missing his art more than his wife of 29 years he immediately began to build a second collection!


* What Famous Movie Star ‘Hunk’ wore dresses as a kid?

Issur Danielovitch aka ‘Kirk Douglas’ (Dec. 9, 1916) was the only boy among had 4 or 5 older sisters, they couldn’t afford toys so they treated him as their own private dress-up doll. As a teen he muscled up and become macho to prove his manhood… ‘I am Spartacus’!!!


What Current Famous Conductor is the grandson of the King & Queen of the Yiddish Theatre€¦Boris & Bessie Thomashefsky?

Michael Tilson Thomas (Dec. 21, 1944)


  1. Akim Tamiroff was not Jewish. He was Armenian. Piper Laurie (Rosetta Jacobs) grew up in Detroit and Los Angeles, not New York. Paulette Goddard didn’t get the part of Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With the Wind’ not because of her personal relationship with Charlie Chaplin (it was not an ‘affair’–they were married), but because of preexisting contracts with Chaplin’s studio.

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