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Nan Halperin

Nan Halpern became famous on the vaudeville stage not just for her comic performances but for the rapid costume changes that earned her the nickname “The Wonder Girl.”

Jennie Goldstein

Jennie Goldstein won the hearts of her audiences playing tragic roles in Yiddish melodramas, but when tastes changed, she showed her versatility by playing comic roles with equal skill.

Selma Diamond

Long before her final role as the grouchy bailiff on Night Court, Selma Diamond earned a reputation behind the scenes as a brilliant, salty comedy writer for some of the best shows on radio and television.

Joan Blondell

Known for playing character roles as a wisecracking, working-class girl, Joan Blondell performed in movies, television, and on stage from age one until her death.

Nora Bayes

A talented and popular vaudeville star, Nora Bayes became an example of the limits of women’s power and independence in the early twentieth century when her attempts to command respect from producers backfired.

Belle Barth

A bawdy comedian who inspired Bette Midler, Belle Barthe narrowly avoided trouble with the law by delivering some of her most wicked punch lines in Yiddish.

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur made a career of playing formidable, opinionated women in movies and on television.

Sophie Tucker

“The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas,” Sophie Tucker defied conventions about gender, age, weight, and ethnicity with her saucy comic banter and music.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s outsized personality, combined with her voice and acting talents, made her one of the most successful performers of the twentieth century.

Madeline Kahn

Madeline Kahn acted in dramas and musicals on stage, film, and television, but she was best known for her comedic roles as Mel Brooks’s favorite female lead.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Comedy." (Viewed on March 17, 2018) <>.


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