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Performing Arts

Joan Rivers, 1933 - 2014

“I am not the ideal Jewish woman,” Joan Rivers admits in a comedy act filmed in the Jewish Women’s Archive film, Making Trouble. “I love to take [my audience] to the edge,” she says. “I love to get them upset . . . And ruin their value system.” Known for her aggressiveness and her “unkosher” bawdy style, in critic Sarah Cohen’s words, Rivers (nee Joan Molinsky), Phi Beta Kappa Barnard graduate and daughter of a Brooklyn Jewish doctor, performed for over forty years.

Lauren Bacall, 1924 - 2014

Growing up in Canada, a favorite game my family and friends played involved trying to identify all the famous Jewish stars in Hollywood who had changed their names.  What else are you going to do in Winnipeg when it’s twenty below? “You know he/she is Jewish,” or “I bet he/she is Jewish,” was a common comment at any gathering.

Elaine May

Elaine May broke down barriers for women in comedy, first as half of the celebrated comic duo Nichols and May, then as one of the few women writer/directors in Hollywood.

Death of writer and comedian Selma Diamond

September 5, 1985
Selma Diamond was hard to miss, in a writer’s room, on a talk show, or in situation comedy.

Lizzy Caplan

Lizzy Caplan was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2014 for her portrayal of Virginia Johnson on the TV show Masters of Sex.

Alyson Hannigan

From her role as an unconventional flautist in American Pie to that of a lesbian witch on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, actress Alyson Hannigan has delighted in turning audience expectations on their heads.

Julianna Margulies

Juliana Margulies has earned the most SAG awards of any woman in the Screen Actors Guild for her starring roles on ER and The Good Wife.

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones has starred in dozens of films, but is best known for her roles on TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation.

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin made history in 1986 as both the youngest actress to win an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress and the first deaf person to win the award.

Fania Marinoff

Fania Marinoff may have been an actress of stage and screen, but she was best known as a hostess whose home became a major hub for artistic circles in New York.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Performing Arts." (Viewed on December 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/performing-arts>.

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