The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Helen Reddy

October 25, 1941–September 29, 2020

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Helen Reddy until we are able to commission a full entry.

Helen Reddy in 1975.

Courtesy of Capitol Records/The Midnight Special

Singer Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” the only song she wrote herself, earned her a Grammy and international stardom. Born to a family of vaudeville performers, Reddy began performing at age four, but rebelled at age twelve, wanting to be a “normal” housewife when she grew up. After a brief marriage at age 20, Reddy became a single mother and went back to show business to support her child. She came to the US in 1966 and struggled to find paying gigs, but finally got a foothold when her cover of the Jesus Christ Superstar torch song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” hit the Top 40 charts in 1971. The following year, inspired by the feminist movement, she wrote and recorded “I Am Woman,” which earned her her first of three Grammy awards. She followed this with another fifteen Top 40 hits and began making forays into acting with roles in Airport 1975 and Pete’s Dragon. She then shifted to theater, acting in a variety of musicals through the 1980s and 1990s, but also became a licensed hypnotherapist and served briefly as California’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner. Although she retired from performing in 2002, she briefly returned to singing in 2012. 

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen Reddy." (Viewed on October 2, 2023) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now