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Television

Gilda Radner

Known to television audiences as bumbling Emily Litella, scatterbrained Roseanne Roseannadanna, and nerdy Lisa Loopner, comedian Gilda Radner shot to stardom on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) and represented an important breakthrough in the visibility of Jewish women on television.

Molly Picon

A drunk’s dare to a five-year-old on a trolley car initiated the career of Molly Picon, the petite darling of the Yiddish musical theater.

Irna Phillips

Millions of people helped popularize the radio and television soap operas created by scriptwriter Irna Phillips. In contrast with other radio soap operas, which typically endorsed traditional visions of domesticity and femininity, Phillips’s serials frequently conveyed the complexities of modern women’s choices.

Bess Myerson

The first Jewish Miss America, Bess Myerson transformed the fame bestowed upon her because of her beauty into an illustrious public career.

Frances Horwich

Frances Rappaport Horwich was born on July 16, 1908 in Ottawa, Ohio, and was the daughter of Samuel (b. c. 1868) and Rosa (Gratz, b. c. 1869) Rappaport. Samuel immigrated to the United States in 1884 from Austria and Rosa in 1885 from Russia. They had five children: Henry (b. c. 1895), Mary B. (b. c. 1898), Maggie F. (b. c. 1903), Joseph N. (b. c. 1905), and Frances (b. 1908). After completing high school in her hometown, Horwich earned her bachelor’s degree in 1929 from the University of Chicago. She received her M.A. from Teachers’ College at Columbia University in 1933 and her doctorate in education from Northwestern University in 1942.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, on November 21, 1945, to Laura (Stienhoff) Hawn, a dance school owner and jewelry wholesaler, and Edward Rutledge Hawn, a professional musician. Hawn was raised Jewish although, she notes, “not in a strictly religious atmosphere,” and describes a happy home life. She began dancing at age three, and danced in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s Nutcracker chorus at age ten. Hawn recalls being asked to dance on point for a friend’s bar mitzva. The music started, and she slipped and fell—twice. Succeeding on her third attempt, “I realized I was probably the little girl who was going to make it.”

Ruth Westheimer

Westheimer forever changed America's ideas of sexual education and literacy by highlighting positive attitudes towards sex through the lens of Orthodox Judaism. After working in a number of positions involving sex education, family planning, and sex therapy, Westheimer found her niche when she did a guest appearance on a local radio show. The audience response was so positive that she was soon hosting her own show.

Wendy Wasserstein

In 1989, with her play The Heidi Chronicles, she won a Pulitzer Prize and became the first woman to receive the Tony Award for Best Play.

Zoe Wanamaker

Zoe Wanamaker, the recipient of numerous awards for both her stage and television work, is known to millions of cinemagoers worldwide for her role as Madam Hooch in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001).

Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters has probably interviewed more statesmen and stars than any other journalist in history. Her numerous and timely TV interviews, both on the weekly newsmagazine 20/20 and on The Barbara Walters Specials, read like a "Who's Who" of newsmakers.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Television." (Viewed on June 30, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/television>.

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