THE FACTS OF LIFE/NBC/1979-88
*(Mindy Cohn/costar) Natalie Green, a Jewish-American youngster who attended
Eastland, a private suburban New York school for young women. She later
graduated and moved to Peekskill where she continued her friendship with three
schoolmates and her aspiration to be a journalist. Mitzi Hoag appeared as Evie
Greene, Natalie's mother; and Molly Picon played Natalie's grandma who was
raised in the Ukraine during the conflicts WWII and later emigrated to America.
On the Facts of Life Reunion Special aired November 18, 2001, Natalie has become
a successful globe-trotting network news journalist. At the end of the program,
she gets engaged to a handsome journalist named Harper.
**(Albert Hague) Mr. Benjamin Shorofsky, a gray-bearded Russian immigrant (of
the Jewish Faith) who taught music to the talented multi-ethnic group of
students at New York City's High School For The Performing Arts.
**(Julie Warner/costar) Danni Lipton, Jewish lawyer working for the family law
firm of in Holt & Associates in Los Angeles. Her grandparents came from Hungary
and changed their name from Lipshitz to Lipton upon arriving in America. Danni
is a non-practicing Jew but after defending a women who wanted to raise her
child in her faith [her husband wants to raise the kid as a Christian] she began
to have a deeper appreciation of her Judaic roots and the Talmud.
*(Abe Vigoda) Phil Fish, a retired Jewish policeman living in New York with his
devoted wife, Bernice (Florence Stanley) who decided to open up their home to a
group of needy juvenile delinquents (aka PINS "Persons in Need of Supervision."
Barry Gordon appeared as Charlie, their live-in counselor. The Phil Fish
character originally appeared on the police sitcom BARNEY MILLER.
THE FIVE MRS. BUCHANANS/CBS/1994-95
*(Judith Ivey/costar) Alex Buchanan, an earthy, fast-talking Jewish woman from
New York City who operated a small thrift store in the town of Mercy, Indiana.
She spent her spare time visiting with her four sisters-in-laws who shared a
common hatred for Mrs. Buchanan, the overbearing family matriarch.
*(Hector Elizondo/costar) Jesse Steinberg, Jewish New York City District
Attorney who interacted with Irish Asst. D.A. Alex Harrigan who worked at Foley
Avenue in Manhattan.
**(Robert Harper) Sy "Bubba" Weisberger, a Jewish-American lawyer with a
southern accent who frequented Frank's Place, a New Orleans restaurant.
According to the script, Bubba was descended from Portuguese and German Jews who
emigrated to America in the 17th Century. Also featured were Gregory Itzin as
Bubba's brother, Brandon; and Nan Martin as their mother.
*(Courtney Cox/costar) Monica Gellar, single Jewish-American woman (she's a
chef) living in a Manhattan apartment with her friend, Rachel Greene (Jennifer
Aniston) who left her wedding to a dentist and sought refuge in Monica's
apartment. Monica's brother, Ross (David Schwimmer) has been in love with Rachel
since high school and a continual on and off romance occurs between the two of
them. Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles also appeared as Monica's parents. Ron
Leibman and Marlo Thomas appeared as Rachel’s parents Dr. Leonard Greene (Ron
Leibman), a vascular surgeon; and his wife, Sandra Greene (Marlo Thomas). Rachel
also had a sister named Jill. Monica’s friend Chandler Bing [whom Monica later
married] had a short-lived love affair with a Long Island Jewish girl named
Janice who’s whiney catchphrase was “Oh, my God!” A Warner Bros. spokesperson
revealed that “the religion of the characters on Friends has never been
established, but viewers can make the educated guess that Monica and Ross are
half-Jewish and that Rachel and her ex-fiance Barry (the dentist) are Jewish.”
Hints on the Gellar’s Jewishness are found on the episodes when Ross was
cleaning the wax out of a Hanukkah menorah and friend Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow)
composes a Christmas holiday song with the lyrics “Monica, Monica have a happy
Hanukkah.” [Note: In real life David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow are Jewish.]
**(Billy West) Dr. John Zoidberg, a Jewish red lobster-like creature with many
surviving patients. He comes from the planet, Decapod 10 and now works as a
staff doctor for Planet Express on Earth in the year 3000. Unfortunately, he
can't tell a male from a female nor a heart from an intestine. Zoidberg has a
B.S. in Invertebrate Biology from Mars University and a M.D. from the
prestigious Outer Zytog School of Medicine (founded 2563). He did his medical
residency at Qu'lox General Hospital and All You Can Eat Buffet, specializing in
Family Medicine and Dessert Preparation. During mating season, a large fin pops
out of his head. Consequently, he becomes extremely violent. Unfortunately, his
species dies after mating (like the Pacific Salmon). So while enticing, it not a
good idea. Zoidberg's talents include the ability to squirt ink; coughs up
pearls; and to clip coupons with his pinchy claws. For fun he enjoys eating
garbage. His family members include his parents are Sam & Sadie, his cousin
Zoidfarb and his long lost Uncle Haorld Zoid, a silent Hologram star. Zoidberg's
secret dream is to become a famous movie star or comedian ("Good Evening, Ladies
THE GANGSTER CHRONICLES/NBC/1981
*(Joe Benny) Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Jewish-American mobster seen from the
point of view of the criminal, showing their private lives and business affairs.
Also featured was Kathleen Lloyd as Stella Siegel.
*(Christopher Cary/costar) Goniff, Yiddish speaking convicted thief attached to
special group of four motley commandos (recruited from stateside prisons) who
were assigned to go behind the lines during World War II and kill Nazi Germans.
Each of these soldiers were promised a Presidential pardon for their previous
indiscretions, but only if they followed orders and accomplished their missions.
The series was inspired by the film The Dirty Dozen (1967).
*(Gertrude Berg/costar) Molly Goldberg, a gossipy Jewish-American housewife
living in a walk-up brownstone apartment (#3-B) at 1030 East Tremont Avenue in
the Bronx, New York City. Her family included Philip Loeb/Harold J. Stone/Robert
H. Harris as her husband Jake, a clothing businessman; Larry Robinson/Tom Taylor
and Arlene McQuade as their teenage children Sammy and Rosalie; and Eli Muntz as
Uncle David. The Goldbergs moved to the suburban town of Haverville in the last
year of the series. Actor Philip Loeb was an unfortunate victim of the Communist
witch hunts that were orchestrated by Senator McCarthy during the 1950's.
Because of a former association with that "nefarious" political party, Philp
Loeb was pressured into leaving his successful role and was soon blacklisted in
Hollywood. In 1955, he committed suicide (an overdose of sleeping pills).
**(Tasia Valenza) Jodie Abramowitz, Jewish-American nurse’s aide who fell in
love with Arthur “Dizzy” Mazelli, a drummer with the blue-collar rock and roll
band The Heights. Also featured was Donnelly Rhodes as Harry Abramowitz, Jodie’s
plumber father and Dizzy’s boss; and Camille Saviola as Jodie’s mother, Shelly
HILL STREET BLUES/NBC/1981-87
**(George Wyner) Irwin Bernstein, Jewish-American Assistant District Attorney
for a large unnamed city who often conversed/dealt with Joyce Davenport, the
lawyer wife of Captain Frank Furillo, the supervisor at Hill Street police
station. On the last episode of this landmark series, Irwin decided to go to
California and enter into a private practice. Joe Spano also appeared as Henry
Goldblume, a dedicated community affairs officer. Another Jewish character was Mick Belker (Bruce Weitz), a snarling undercover officer who once bit off a suspect's finger. He was constantly at odds with his domineering mother who wanted to fix him up with a 'nice Jewish girl'.
*(Fritz Weaver) Josef Weiss, a Jewish German citizen living in the 1930s world
of Hitler and the rising tide of Nazism who at first ignores the political
climate but eventually becomes one of the millions of victims who are declared
enemies of the new Nazi Third Reich. While Dr. Weiss helps the needy Jews in the
ghettos of Warsaw; his Christian wife Inga seeks refuge with her non-Jewish
family members. In the end despite the gorilla activities of Rudi and Karl who
begins to document the atrocities while in prison by secretly drawing pictures
of the horrors for the future, the Weiss family succumbs to the darkness of the
Nazi regime and their infamous death camps. Also featured were Meryl Streep as
Inga Helms/Weiss; James Woods as Karl Weiss; Joseph Bottoms as Rudi Weiss; and
Rosemary Berta Weiss.
HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS/NBC/1993-99
*(Richard Belzer/costar) John Munch, divorced police detective working for the
Homicide Division (“Murder Squad”) of the Baltimore Police Department. John grew
up in the town of Pikesville, a heavily Jewish suburb of Baltimore. He exhibited
his Jewish heritage in episode “Kaddish“ [the episode began with words from the
Hebrew prayer for mourning] that involved the murder of a Helen Rosenthal, a
Jewish woman that John knew in his younger days. When John’s non-Jewish partner
asks “What’s a shiva?” Munch replies “Boy, you sure do live in an Irish cocoon,
don’t you?” At the end of the episode, Helen’s daughter lights a yahrtzeit
candle while Munch dons a kippah and goes to the shiva house for minyan. Det.
Munch later resurfaced in New York City on the NBC series Law & Order” Special
Victims Unit. Richard Belzer who played John Munch is also Jewish.
IT'S A LIVING/ABC/1981-82/SYN/1985-89
**(Paul Kreppel) Sonny Manischewitz, (aka Sonny Mann), the Jewish-American
lounge singer/pianist (and allegedly God's gift to women) who performed a
one-man show at Above the Top, a Los Angeles restaurant (located on the
thirtieth floor). Before playing at his current gig, he worked at Vinnie's
Romper Room and the Play Pen Lounge at Chuck's Game Room in Las Vegas. Also
featured was Nita Talbot as Sonny's mother, Rose; Donnelly Rhodes as Sonny's
brother, Buddy; and Paul Kreppel in a dual role as Irv Manischewitz, Sonny's
IT'S GARRY SHANDLING'S SHOW/SHO/FOX/1986-90
*(Garry Shandling) Garry Shandling, a whiny Jewish-American standup comedian who
hosted his own strange situation comedy where the studio audience was privileged
to the goings-on of his single bachelor lifestyle. Also featured were Barbara
Cason as Garry's mother, Mrs. Shandling; and Michael Tucci, Bernadette Birkett
and Scott Nemes as the Shumaker's, his next-door neighbors.
IT'S LIKE, YOU NO.../ABC/1999
*(Steven Eckholdt/costar) Robbie, an ex-New Yorker based in Los Angeles who has
made a fortune televising Jewish High Holy Days services.
JESUS OF NAZARETH/CBS/2000 (Miniseries)
*(Jeremy Sisto) Jesus Christ, the Jewish son of Joseph and Mary who spread the
gospel of love in ancient Israel; was declared an enemy of the state; crucified
through the auspices of the Roman occupying forces; and resurrected to his
faithful followers. Other cast included Jacqueline Biset as his mother, Mary;
Armin Mueller-Stahl as his step-father, Joseph; Tom Lockyer as Judas; Debra
Messing as Mary Magdelene; Claudio Amendola as Barabbas; David O’Hara as John
the Baptist; Luca Barbareschi as Herod Antipas, tetrach of Galilee and son of
Herod the Great; Elena Sofia Ricci as Herodias, the second wife of Herod Antipas
and mother of Salome (Mark 6:17-18); Gabriella Pession as Salome; Stefania Rocca
as Mary of Bethania; Luca Zingaretti as Peter; and Jeroen Krabbé as Satan.
JESUS OF NAZARETH/NBC/1977 (Miniseries)
*(Robert Powell) Jesus Christ, the Jewish son of Joseph and Mary who spread the
gospel of love in ancient Israel; was declared an enemy of the state; crucified
through the auspices of the Roman occupying forces; and resurrected to his
faithful followers before ascending into paradise to his heavenly father (aka
"God."). Other cast included Olivia Hussey as the Virgin Mary; Yogo Voyagis as
Joseph; Immad Cohen as Jesus as a young boy; Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene;
James Farentino as Simon Peter; Ian McShane as Judas; Michael York as John the
Baptist; Christopher Plummer as Herod Antipas, tetrach of Galilee and son of
Herod the Great; Peter Ustinov as Herod, Idumaean king of Judea; Laurence
Olivier as Nicodemus; Ralph Richardson as Simeon; James Mason as Joseph of
Aremathea; Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas; Rod Steiger as Pontius Pilate; Claudia
Cardinale as the Adultress; and Stacy Keach as Barabbas, the thief. Directed by
Franco Zefferelli, this eight-hour bible-based miniseries was shot in Tunisia
THE JOAN RIVERS SHOWSYN/1989-93
*(Joan Rivers) Joan Rivers, sassy Jewish-American comedian who hosted this hour
long daytime talk show. Joan Rivers had previously appeared on her own late
night talk show THE LATE SHOW STARRING JOAN RIVERS/FOX/1986-87 which aired live
from Hollywood at 11:00 P.M.. till midnight. This program launched the then
fledgling Fox Network. Joan Rivers (who previously had been a favorite guest on
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON) soon fell into disfavor with Johnny Carson,
who allegedly felt betrayed by Rivers for not consulting with him before her
show went up against his program on a nightly basis. In 1986 Joan Rivers gave
out (as a joke) the home phone number of actress Victoria Principal during a
live broadcast of FOX's THE JOAN RIVERS SHOW and the resulting bit of levity
prompted a law suit. Earlier in her career, Joan Rivers had hosted a syndicated
half-hour talk show THE JOAN RIVERS SHOW (aka THAT SHOW) the featured celebrity
guests and other guests who usually had some strange talent or hobby. Later in
the 1990s Joan Rivers could be seen popping up on such cable network programs as
her home-shopping program CAN WE SHOP?/SYN/1994; and marketing a line of jewelry
products on the QVC home shopping channel. NOTE: Joan's trademark catchphrase is
"Can we talk?" This burning question was asked during her comedy routines that
featured mouthy gossip, personally intrusive questions, and cruel quips picking
on the weight problem of Elizabeth Taylor and the ugliness of the Royal family
members. She retorted "Oh!, grow up!" when the audience questioned the meanness
or tastefulness of her jokes. After Irish-American comedian Rosie O'Donnell
("dubbed "the Queen of Nice" by TV critics and reporter) took over the reigns of
her successful daytime talk show THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW in the late 1990s, she
commented on air that she never appreciated the mean-spirited humor in Ms.
Rivers' comedy routines.
*(Michael Tucker) Stuart Markowitz, a short but sensitive Jewish attorney
working for a prestigious Los Angeles law firm. Jill Eikenberry played Ms. Ann
Kelsey, his gentile attorney friend whom he later married. Jill's mother
disapproved of her marriage and was bigoted towards Stewart and what she called
"those people." On one episode Stuart is given direction for a sexual maneuver
("the Venus Butterfly") guaranteed to melt the sexual frost off of anyone. Just
ask Ann, she'll vouch it really worked. In real-life Michael Tucker and
Eikenberry were husband and wife.
*(Bruce Solomon/costar) Rabbi David Small, a Jewish-American religious from
Temple Beth Hallel Synagogue in the town of Cameron, California. His interest in
criminology often got him involved with close friend Paul Lanigan, the local
Irish Chief of Police. Also featured was Janet Margolin as Miriam Small, the
Rabbi's wife. The characters for the series are based on the novels of Harry
Kemelman, e.g.Friday the Rabbi Slept Late.
*(Richard Dreyfuss) Meyer Lansky, Jewish-American mobster who helped "organize"
organized crime. The film opens with the 70-year-old Lansky in Jerusalem
awaiting word on his request for Israeli citizenship (later refused) and then
flashbacks to Lansky in his formative teenage days in New York's Lower East Side
where he first gets "connected" with street criminals Ben "Bugsy" Siegel and
Charlie "Kucky" Luciano whom lay the foundations for America's criminal
LIFE WITH LUIGI/CBS/1952
**(Joe Forte) Horwitz, Jewish immigrant attending night classes in Chicago to
improve his English.
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE/NBC/1974-83
**(Steve Tracy) Percival Dalton, a frontier Jewish-American who married Nellie
Oleson, the daughter of general store owners in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. During
the 1980-81 season Percival discovered he was actually Jewish. His real name was
Isaac Cohen. Nellie & Isaac decided to raise one of their twin sons Christian
and the other Jewish.
**(Adam Matthew Lamberg) David Zephyr "Gordo" Gordon, the 5-foot, four-inch
Jewish-American best friend of blonde Caucasian teenager, Lizzie McGuire and
dark-haired Hispanic Miranda Isabell Sanchez. They attend North Hills Junior
High (later called Hillridge Middle School in District 41) in California and
like to chat on-line or talk on the phone. David is a prodigy filmmaker. He is
often found filming documentaries, including the martial arts film he helped
make for Matt McGuire, Lizzie's bratty younger brother. Michael Mantell and
Alison Martin played the role of Gordon's parents, Howard and Roberta. David
celebrated his rite of passage into manhood (bar mitzvah) in a synagogue but
after the accepted age (14+) Confused about what a bar-mitzvah was, Miranda asks
"a bar, like where you drink? At 13?" On episode "The Longest Yard" Gordo makes
a sandwich and places several slices of ham on the bread (ham/pork is a no-no in
the Jewish religion). Actor Adam Lamberg was born on September 14, 1984 in New
LOVE & WAR/CBS/1992-95
*(Jay Thomas/costar) Jack Stein, an opinionated Jewish-American newspaper
columnist ("The Steinway" opinion column) who worked for the New York Post. He
enjoyed hanging out at the Blue Shamrock, a seedy restaurant/bar where he vented
his frustrations about all of life's stupidities. For a time he had a
relationship with Wally Porter, the gentile owner of the bar; and later with the
new owner of the bar, Dana Palladino.
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