Performing Arts: Film
At Stella Adler’s death in 1992, Robert Brustein wrote in The New Republic, “Stella Adler’s death … represents a major loss in the pantheon of theater greats. Through the strength of her convictions, the integrity of her character, and the brilliance of her mind, Adler embodied the art of the dramatic profession and remained an influential figure throughout a career that spanned most of the century.”
In the twentieth century, Jewish women played a disproportionate role in the development of American consumer culture because of a combination of factors. For one, American industry became increasingly consumer-oriented, and consumer industries were comparatively open to small entrepreneurs. For another, Jewish immigrants and their children tended to display strong entrepreneurial tendencies.
Anouk Aimée is perhaps best known for her remarkable presence as an icon of cool, sophisticated beauty in more than seventy films across seven decades, including such classics as Alexandre Astruc’s Le Rideau Cramoisi (The Crimson Curtain, 1952), Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 1/2 (1963), Jacques Demy’s Lola (1963), André Delvaux’s Un Soir, un Train (One Evening, One Train, 1968), George Cukor’s Justine (1969), Bernardo Bertolucci’s Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981), Robert Altman’s Prêt à Porter (Ready to Wear, 1994) and, most unforgettably, Claude Lelouch’s Un Homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman, 1966)
She has appeared in approximately forty Israeli feature films, dozens of stage plays and television dramas. Her starring roles in films include Siege, 1969; Highway Queen, 1971; House on Chelouche Street, 1973; My Mother the General, 1979; Summer of Aviya, 1988; Life According to Agfa, 1992; Sh’chur, 1994; and Passover Fever, 1995.
A seminal figure in the history of performance art, Eleanor Antin is one of the most prolific artists of the last three decades, moving freely in many forms of media, including live and installation art, independent film, photography, video, drawing, painting and writing.
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.
Largely self-taught, Arnold was the first American woman to be accepted into Magnum Photos, a cooperative photography agency that in the 1950s helped photographers gain artistic and financial control of their work. Inspired by Magnum members such as Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arnold took photographs for major newsmagazines such as Life. Her well-known studies of China, women, political figures like Senator Joseph McCarthy and Malcolm X, and movie stars like Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe have placed her among the top American photographers.
By focusing on Jewish women artists working in Britain today, whose Jewishness and gender are central to their artistic output, it offered valuable insights into the diverse ways in which women perceive their Jewishness in contemporary Britain. Aware of their complex “otherness” as women, Jews and artists, they put that awareness to good creative use; and in so doing, proved that art has a crucial role to play in exploring—and perhaps crystallizing—issues of identity.
The life of Ellen (Rosenberg) Auerbach was a constant journey of self-discovery and, in her photographic work, a search for the essence that lies behind people and things. Her curious mind, her keen and intuitive eye and her sense of humor permeated her photography, which was re-discovered in the late 1970s, along with that of other avant-garde photographers and artists of the Weimar Republic. Auerbach belonged to the generation of New Women who sought to break with traditional female roles and become independent through their work.
Since the beginning of British colonialization of New South Wales in 1788, when between eight and fifteen Jews were among the convicts who arrived with the First Fleet, several waves of immigration have brought the Jewish population up to its present size.
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.
The “Baghdadis,” referring to Jews coming mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Aleppo, but also from other Arabic speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora trading communities in Bombay and Calcutta.
Belle Baker has been described as a famed torch singer and vaudeville star, as well as a Yiddish, Broadway, and motion picture actor.
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.”
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.
Baum frequently depicted powerful, self-reliant women caught up in the social and economic turbulence of twentieth-century Europe and America.
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.
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).
The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, named by her fans the “Divine Sarah,” is recognized as the first international stage star.
Miriam Bernstein-Cohen, actor, director, poet and translator, was born in Kishinev in 1895.
As an actor on the Yiddish stage, Glika (Degenshteyn) Bilavsky participated early on in the renaissance of secular Yiddish culture in the twentieth century.
A beautiful and accomplished stage and screen actress, Blondell was born on August 30, 1906 (some accounts say 1909) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Since her first film role in Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight literally propelled her into the limelight, Claire Bloom has been one of the most iconic and popular actresses of her generation.
In her dedication to her 1929 book, The Little Swiss Wood-Carver, Madeline Brandeis, children’s author and producer and director of travel films, sounded her unique multicultural note: “To every child of every land,/Little Sister, Little Brother,/As in this book your lives unfold,/May you learn to love each other.”