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Acting

Elisabeth Bergner

One of the most successful and popular stage and screen actresses in pre-World War II Germany, “die Bergner,” as she was known, was born on August 22, 1897 in Drobycz, Austrian Galicia, to a merchant, Emil Ettel (d. 1934) and Anna Rosa (née Wagner).

Gertrude Berg

For a generation of Americans, Gertrude Berg embodied Jewish motherhood in a series of radio, television, stage, and film performances. She is best remembered as the creative force behind the Goldbergs, a fictitious Jewish family who lived in an apartment at 1038 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. In addition to her matriarchal public persona, Berg was also a one of the first American women to work as a writer and producer of radio and television situation comedy.

Bella Bellarina

Unless they worked on the English-speaking stage, Yiddish actors were largely unnoticed by critics and the general media. Thus very little is known about the life of many of these wonderful artists who appeared before adoring audiences on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn, or the Bronx. Such is the case with Bella Bellarina, an actor who made her mark with the famous Vilna Troupe, a company dedicated to serious drama and avant-garde staging techniques.

Nora Bayes

Nora Bayes was an international singing star in vaudeville and musical comedy during the first twenty-five years of the twentieth century. Known as a willful and temperamental star, Bayes relied on her own charisma and popularity as she resisted managerial control and ignored the details of legal contracts.

Michal Bat-Adam

Winner of several Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress awards from the Israel Institute of Cinema, the multi-talented Michal Bat Adam was the first Israeli woman to direct a feature film.

Theda Bara

Long before Mae West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlowe, and Madonna vamped their way across the silver screen, there was Theda Bara—the original celluloid “vamp.”

Belle Baker

Belle Baker has been described as a famed torch singer and vaudeville star, as well as a Yiddish, Broadway, and motion picture actor.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall’s 1944 Hollywood debut in To Have and Have Not catapulted this young Jewish actress into instant stardom. Costarring with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart, Bacall soon became known for “The Look”—downturned head, eyes looking up, suggestive of a young woman sexually wise beyond her years. She and Bogart were one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, both on screen and off, and Bacall was famous for her characterizations of women whose strong will complemented, rather than detracted from, their sexual attraction.

Bea Arthur

Arthur will probably always be best known for portraying liberal Maude Findlay, the “women’s libber” who stuck it to Archie Bunker on television’s All in the Family and then dominated her own situation comedy, Maude, throughout the 1970s. Arthur’s imperious and controversial Maude left a lasting imprint on American television and feminism.

Anna Appel

Anna (Khane) Appel, a highly acclaimed character actor, straddled the Yiddish- and English-language worlds of theater, film, and television. Excelling in both comic and dramatic roles, she was especially acclaimed for the versatility of her mimic art. A tall woman with an expressive round face, Appel became noted for her mother roles.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Acting." (Viewed on November 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/acting>.

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