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Acting

Sydney Taylor

Sydney Taylor created a fictional family of such endearing character and loving spirit that her young readers clamored for more titles. The values of family love, charity, wisdom, compassion, and social justice that define Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family owe their particular flavor to Jewish culture.

Sylvia Blagman Syms

Sylvia Syms’s dynamic saloon performances were characterized by an intimate storytelling style and a grainy contralto voice combined with honesty, a “been-there” aura, and a genuine love of the connection with her audience. She was touted as one of the best contributors to her genre by such noteworthy peers as Cy Coleman, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand is more than another consumer-culture icon. She is a diva, a superstar, a sensation. Since the 1960s, she has won more varied awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, special Tony, Golden Globe, CableACE, Peabody) than anyone else in show business, and has sold over sixty-eight million records, more records than any other female singer.

Sylvia Sidney

Feisty and opinionated, Sylvia Sidney in her prime was quite the opposite of the waiflike, even pathetic, victim of social oppression she played in Hollywood’s Depression Era films.

Joan Rivers

In revues, nightclub acts, and concert halls, and to a vast new audience via television in the 1970s and 1980s, Joan Rivers popularized and perfected a genre of comedy that challenged reigning social conventions.

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.

Adah Isaacs Menken

Internationally famous for her starring role in the equestrian melodrama Mazeppa, in which she was stripped on stage to a flesh-colored body stocking, lashed to the back of the “wild horse of Tartary,” and sent flying on a narrow ramp above the theater, Adah Isaacs Menken consistently defied social mores.

Judith Malina

Personifying the 1960s countercultural challenge to traditionalism, self-proclaimed anarchist and pacifist Judith Malina once likened herself to a biblical prophet, railing at but never dissociating herself from her people. Founder, with Julian Beck, of the experimental Living Theatre, she aimed at dissolving the separation between actor and character, cast and audience, art and politics.

Judy Holliday

Born on June 21, 1921, at Lying In Hospital in Manhattan, the only child of Helen Gollomb and Abe Tuvim, Judy Holliday was the only child in a family of childless uncles and aunts, particularly on her mother’s side. Her parents, who met at the Rand School in New York, married on June 17, 1917, and often frequented the Café Royale, a meeting place on New York’s Lower East Side for people in the Yiddish theater. After they separated when Holliday was about six, she was brought up by her mother’s extended family, although later she reestablished relations with her father. President of the American Federation of Musicians from 1929 to 1937, a member of the American Zionist Strategy Council in 1944, and executive director of the Jewish National Fund of America from 1951 to 1958, Abe Tuvim, who died of cancer at sixty-four, was also a journalist for the Jewish-language press. Judy’s mother, whose parents emigrated from Russia—her father had made epaulets for the czar and died shortly after arriving in this country—grew up under the tutelage of a strong socialist mother and amid several brothers. After separating from her husband, Helen Tuvim gave piano lessons during the hard times of the Depression.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Acting." (Viewed on January 16, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/acting>.

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