Monday, April 27, 2009


In scanning through the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, I have encountered lists of almost every imaginable thing. One that I found intriguing was a list of famous people who are Jewish. While most on the list are people everybody knows are Jewish like Sammy Davis Jr. (but not Sammy Davis Sr.) or Golda Meir or Sen. Joe Lieberman. My focus is on people who are not so obvious. Many of the following are converts and others have one Jewish parent, and many may be non-observant, and some are deceased, but all are documented with footnotes on their Wikipedia sites.

This list is not intended to further the pernicious aims of anti-Semites who assert that Jews are attempting to control the world, but rather to illustrate that the Jews, a small minority, have pretty much assimilated in American society.

Campbell Brown, CNN anchor, Converted when she married Republican consultant, Daniel Senor.

Kate Capshaw, actress. Converted when she married moviemaker Steven Spielberg.

Nell Carter, singer, actress. Converted.

Connie Chung, news anchor. Converted when she married Maury Povich.

Jim Croce, singer, songwriter. Converted.

Soleil Moon Frye, actress (Punky Brewster).

Mary Hart, TV personality (Entertainment Tonight). Converted, married to producer Bert Sugarman.

Carolyn Jones, actress. (Addams Family). Converted.

Marilyn Monroe, actress. Converted when she married playwright Arthur Miller.

Elizabeth Taylor, actress. Converted when she married producer Michael Todd.

Ivanka Trump, TV personality and daughter of non-Jewish Donald Trump. Converting.

Ike Turner, singer and alleged former husband of Tina Turner. (He always asserted that they were not legally married.) Converted.

Jackie Wilson, R & B Singer. Converted.

Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer. Converted although father Edward Torres was Jewish.

Bob Dylan, singer, songwriter.

Diane von Furstenberg, fashion designer.

Camille Pissarro, French Impressionist painter.

Saatchi & Saatchi, British advertising agency.

Vidal Sassoon, hair stylist.

Diego Velasquez, Spanish painter. Family was Jewish conversos during Inquisition.

Jamie Lee Curtis, actress. Daughter of Tony Curtis, f/k/a Bernard Schwartz.

Kate Hudson, actress. Daughter of actress Goldie Hawn.

Leonard Nimoy, actor. (Star Trek).

River Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix, actors. Mother is Jewish.

Ayn Rand, f/k/a Alisa Rosenbaum, author.

Scarlett Johansson, actress. Mother is Jewish.

Jennifer Connelly, actress. Mother is Jewish and attended the Yeshiva.

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress. Father, Bruce Paltrow is Jewish.

Paula Abdul, actress and singer. Father, Harry Abdul is a Syrian Jew, raised in Brazil. Mother is also Jewish.

Patricia Arquette, actress. Mother is Jewish, Father is a convert to Islam.

Robert Downey Jr., actor. Father, Robert Sr., is half Jewish.

Daryl Hannah, actress.

Sean Penn, actor. An agnostic, although his father Leo Penn is Jewish.

Katie Couric, TV anchor. Mother is Jewish, but she was raised Presbyterian.

Harrison Ford, actor. Mother is Jewish.

Whoopi Goldberg, f/k/a Caryn Johnson, actress, comedian. Mother is Jewish.

Arlo Guthrie, folk singer and son of legendary Woody Guthrie. His Bar Mitzvah tutor was activist Rabbi Meir Kahane who founded the Jewish Defense League, moved to Israel, served in the Knesset there, and was later assassinated.

You may be dismayed to learn that Mel Gibson is not on the list, and I'm fairly certain that he is not Jewish. Nor is Sen. John Kerry, whose paternal grandparents from Austria, the Kohns, converted to Catholicism in 1901. Sen. Kerry's brother, Cameron, however, is Jewish.

Madonna is not Jewish although she is a serious student of Jewish Kabbalah and has donated large sums of money to build a Kabbalah school for children.

On the sports front, 3 players in last year's Baseball All-Star Game are Jewish. The American League featured Red Sox first baseman, Kevin Youkilis and Rangers second baseman, Ian Kinsler. The National League had Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun. In football, the Chicago Bears have at least two, new quarterback Jay Cutler and kicker Robbie Gould.

That's enough information overload for today!

KENNETH SUSKIN P.S. I apologize--I confused Jay Cutler with another quarterback, Jay Fiedler who is Jewish. Also, despite her periodic remarks that she is half Jewish and half Catholic, Whoopi Goldberg is NOT Jewish. She took the name Goldberg, claiming that her mother was Jewish--her grandmother's name was Rachel Freedman, which sounds like a Jewish name, but in fact is not.