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Judy Holliday

Judy Holliday

Judy Holliday won an Academy Award for her performance as the not-so-dumb blonde in Born Yesterday, a role she fought hard to play.

Moments in History: Jewish Entertainers in Film

For Jewish American Heritage Month, we’ve scoured the Archive for a special selection of posts we are calling Moments in History. This selection includes moments ranging from 1890 to 2011, each profiling a noteworthy moment in the history of female Jewish entertainers.

Judy Holliday wins Academy Award for best actress

March 29, 1951

Actress and comedian Judy Holliday received an Academy Award for her performance in "Born Yesterday."

Theater in the United States

For over a hundred years, Jewish women have been involved in the American theater as writers, actors, directors, designers and producers. The vitality of the Yiddish theater, the splendor of Broadway, the rich tapestry of the regional theater—and everything in between—all owe a debt to the Jewish women who have given of their talents, their energy, their drive, and their dreams.

Judy Holliday

Born on June 21, 1921, at Lying In Hospital in Manhattan, the only child of Helen Gollomb and Abe Tuvim, Judy Holliday was the only child in a family of childless uncles and aunts, particularly on her mother’s side. Her parents, who met at the Rand School in New York, married on June 17, 1917, and often frequented the Café Royale, a meeting place on New York’s Lower East Side for people in the Yiddish theater. After they separated when Holliday was about six, she was brought up by her mother’s extended family, although later she reestablished relations with her father. President of the American Federation of Musicians from 1929 to 1937, a member of the American Zionist Strategy Council in 1944, and executive director of the Jewish National Fund of America from 1951 to 1958, Abe Tuvim, who died of cancer at sixty-four, was also a journalist for the Jewish-language press. Judy’s mother, whose parents emigrated from Russia—her father had made epaulets for the czar and died shortly after arriving in this country—grew up under the tutelage of a strong socialist mother and amid several brothers. After separating from her husband, Helen Tuvim gave piano lessons during the hard times of the Depression.

Film Industry in the United States

The history of Jewish women’s contribution to the Hollywood film industry has been one of gradual progression toward ever higher levels of participation. For most of Hollywood’s history, the dominant tendency was to achieve a universal image that revealed no traces of ethnic heritage. This trend held until the 1960s and affected all ethnic groups. Only a few dozen Jewish actors were able to make their way into stardom under these constraints. Since the 1960s, however, Hollywood films have reflected a higher degree of ethnic diversity. The result of this change is that increasing numbers of Jewish actors have been able to establish careers in Hollywood.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judy Holliday." (Viewed on September 16, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/15953>.

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