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Comedy

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.

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers carved a place for herself among the Hollywood elite as a comedian and fashion commentator for whom no subject was ever taboo.

Gilda Radner

A gifted comedian, Gilda Radner made a name for herself as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live.

Bette Midler

Unapologetically bawdy, Bette Midler used elements from earlier brassy entertainers like Sophie Tucker in her comedy and music, but with a style that was all her own.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Comedy." (Viewed on August 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/comedy>.

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