Jewish Actors

Thursday, April 14 by Joshua Wade

Consisting of some of the most talented and successful thespians in cinema history, this list of Jewish actors includes everyone from sex symbols like Norma Shearer to famed television icons like William Shatner. Showcasing artistic performers who have shown exceptional skill in the fields of writing, directing, acting and singing, these actors share a heritage of one of the world’s oldest religions and have proven to be some of the best in their craft.

  1. The Marx Brothers. Four of the most successful Jewish actors in Hollywood history, the multitalented Marx Brothers were born to Jewish immigrant parents in New York City’s Upper East Side. The brothers were highly successful vaudeville stars who transferred their act to film, producing some of the most iconic comedies in film history including “Duck Soup,” and “A Night at the Opera”
  2. William Shatner. One of the most well known Jewish actors of the past decade, Shatner was born to Jewish parents and raised in Conservative Judaism. Known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk in the 1966 television series “Star Trek,” Shatner is one of film’s most celebrated, and often parodied, thespians and is a classically trained Shakespearean actor.
  3. Adam Sandler. One of the most successful comedians of his generation, Adam Sandler is a known Jewish actor best remembered for his roles in films like “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison” as well as his time as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” A talented writer and musician, Sandler paid homage to his heritage with “The Chanukah Song” in 1994.
  4. Lisa Edelstein. Known for her role as Dr. Lisa Cuddy on the television series “House,” Edelstein is an accomplish playwright who has starred in a number of television series, notably “Seinfeld” and “Ally McBeal.” Edelstein has also had numerous bit parts in movies, including the Academy Award winning 1997 comedy “As Good as it Gets,” in which she shared a cameo with fellow Jewish “House” star, Peter Jacobson.
  5. Adam Goldberg. An exceptionally funny Jewish actor and director, Adam Goldberg was born to a Jewish father and has had numerous cameo roles in television and film, most notably as Chandler’s insane roommate Eddie on “Friends” and Private “Fish” Mellish in the award winning film, “Saving Private Ryan.” Goldberg celebrated his heritage in the 2003 comedy “The Hebrew Hammer” in which he starred as the film’s titular Jewish hero.
  6. Rachel Weisz. Known for her roles in films like “The Mummy” and the award winning 2005 film “The Constant Gardener,” English film and theater actress Rachel Weisz was born to Jewish parents. An exceptionally beautiful and talented actress, Weisz broke into directing with her 2010 short film, “The Thief” starring “United States of Tara” actress, Rosemary DeWitt.
  7. The Three Stooges. Some of the most successful Jewish actors in the history of comedy, the actors who composed the original Three Stooges including Moe, Shemp and Curly Howard as well as their stage partner Larry Fine, were all born to Jewish parents. Originally a vaudeville act, The Three Stooges produced a wealth of short films throughout the 1930’s, considered today as hallmarks in the genre of film comedy.
  8. Gwyneth Paltrow. An award winning actress and singer, Gwyneth Paltrow is the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and Jewish filmmaker Bruce Paltrow. Known for her roles in films like “Shakespeare in Love” and the Indie gem “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Paltrow has lent her exceptional singing voice to films like “Duets” and “Country Strong,” both of which have produced hit singles.
  9. Jennifer Connelly. A stunningly beautiful American actress and former model, Connelly was born to a Jewish mother and has become known for her award winning performance in “A Beautiful Mind” as well as the Indie classic, “Requiem for a Dream.” Finding major success in art house films like “House of Sand and Fog,” Connelly is best known for her work in cult films like “Dark City” and “Labyrinth.”
  10. Norma Shearer. A Canadian born actress, Norma Shearer was the most popular and successful actress in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Shearer became a feminist icon after her 1930 film “The Divorcee” and converted to Judaism after marrying studio producer Irving Thalberg in 1927, completely embracing the religion.

- Joshua Wade

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