10 Best Jewish Hollywood Actors

Sunday, April 3 by Brenda Daverin

Listing the 10 best Jewish Hollywood actors is no easy feat. So many talented actors have been sons of Jewish mothers (and fathers) over the decades that the list could go to 30 and still be missing people.

  1. Dustin Hoffman. His Oscar statuette bookends are the tip of his talent iceberg. His roles have been iconic in cinematic history, from "The Graduate" to "Tootsie" and beyond.
  2. Richard Dreyfuss. No list of the best Jewish Hollywood actors would be complete without this leading man. Hero or villain, serious or silly, Dreyfuss can be counted on to make every role he plays spark off the screen.
  3. Tony Curtis. This Jewish actor was one of the greatest leading men Hollywood ever had. Handsome enough for the ladies, macho enough for the guys. Even while wearing in a dress in "Some Like it Hot."
  4. Mel Brooks. One of the Jewish Hollywood actors on this list who would also rank highly as a writer, director, or producer, Brooks' comedic performances are an integral part of why his movies soar. Unafraid to be broad and capable of subtlety, one well-timed double-take is all it takes from him to get you laughing. 
  5. Woody Allen. His characters' pictures should be next to "nebbish" in the dictionary. Permanently rumpled and bemused, this multi-talented man's life is controversial but his talent is undeniable.
  6. Billy Crystal. The saying goes, "Falling down is easy. Comedy, that's hard." Crystal's comedic talent makes being funny look like falling down, whether it's all of him or his voice bringing the laughs.
  7. Kirk Douglas. Somewhat unusual for the Jewish actors on this list in that most of his work is in dramatic roles. But with that cleft chin and strong-as-steel delivery, Douglas could be nothing else but one of the most macho actors on the silver screen.
  8. William Shatner. From Captain Kirk to Denny Crane, Shatner's legacy in the industry can't be replaced. What other name actor would be gutsy enough to perform an entire movie in Esperanto?
  9. Harvey Keitel. Thank Quentin Tarantino for reviving this Jewish actor's Hollywood career. From cut throats to a big Focker friend, Keitel's name over the title is a guarantee for a bravura performance.
  10. Ben Stiller. After cutting his performing teeth on television, Stiller made the leap to the silver screen and hasn't stopped piling up the hits. Nor has he left TV behind, for which his fans are truly grateful.
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COMMENTS

  1. April 3, 2011 11:46 pm

    Francis Lee

    Bill Shatner was not the first Hollywood star to use Esperanto in their films. Charlie Chaplin used it in “The Great Dictator” on all the shop signs, and Laurel & Hardy used it their film “The Road to Morocco”.

    Parts of Charlie Chaplin’s Esperanto contribution can be seen on http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    Perhaps I should add that Esperanto is still thriving and going forward. The Esperanto study course http://www.lernu.net is now receiving 120,000 hits per month, for example.