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Performing Arts

Joan Rivers and Jewish Comedy: A Remembrance

“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. 

Helen Joseph

Called the “grandmother of American puppetry“ for her definitive history of puppets and marionettes, Helen Haiman Joseph was also known for her own practice of the craft as a talented designer and director.

Lydia Joel

Lydia Joel began her dance career as a performer, but it was as the editor of Dance Magazine that she had the greatest impact on the field.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Known for her long-time collaboration with Merchant Ivory Films, novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is the only writer to have won both a Booker Prize and the Academy Award for her work.

Fanny E. Holtzmann

Fanny E. Holtzmann made waves as a lawyer for stars of Broadway and Hollywood as well as luminaries of world politics such as the Romanoffs.

Libby Holman

Torch singer Libby Holman was known as much for her scandalous personal life and revolutionary activism as for her lush voice.

Sylvia Herscher

Sylvia Kossovsky Herscher, self-declared matchmaker of the theater world, took pride in pairing writers, composers, producers, and publishers to create memorable scores and shows.

Anna Held

A scandalous figure who regularly changed details of her life to suit her image, actress Anna Held was best known for her relationship with Florenz Ziegfeld.

Theresa Helburn

Called the “'Top Man' on Broadway” by the New York Woman, Theresa Helburn created a venue for great American playwrights as director of the Theatre Guild and played a key role in the history of the modern American musical.

Renee Harris

Renee Harris survived tragedy aboard the Titanic to become New York’s first female theater producer.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Performing Arts." (Viewed on September 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/performing-arts>.

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