One of the most influential American women of the 20th century and the second Jewish woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Abzug's deep ties to Judaism emmanated from her extended family of Russian immigrants. Never afraid to take controversial positions, she was a fierce advocate of peace and woman's rights and became a prominent national speaker against poverty, racisim, and violence in America. In 1970, she was elected to Congress on a woman's rights/peace platform. Her first vote was for the Equal Rights Amendment; she served two terms. She was a co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, the Women's Strike for Peace, and the Coalition for a Democratic Alternative. Born Bella Savitsky on July 24, 1920, she died in 1998.
American actor and comedian, born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1953, she did local stand-up comedy for years before things started popping: TV, film, and then, in 1989, her own series, Roseanne, which ran for eight seasons. During that time she divorced her husband of nearly 20 years, then married and divorced her co-star, Tom Arnold, and followed that with a third unsuccessful marriage. She won a Golden Globe in 1996, did a Broadway stint as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and is launching a new TV series.
One of the most successful women in the history of American entertainment, she was born October 3, 1899 to immigrant parents. Her creation and portrayal of Molly Goldberg became the personification of the "Jewish mother." Brooks Atkinson, of The New York Times, said she "...brought out the humanity, love and respect that people should have toward each other. Her contributions to American radio, television, films and stage will always be remembered, especially by those who experienced hearing and seeing her perform." She won an Emmy in 1950 and a Tony in 1959. She died September 14, 1966.
Born Elizabeth Cohen somewhere between 1915 and 1919, Comden, along with her lifetime friend and partner Adolph Green, created some of America's best loved stage and film musicals, from On the Town to Singin' in the Rain to The Will Rogers Follies. She has been a powerful force in American theater since the 1940s. Among the partners' awards are five Tonys, a Grammy and an Obie. Comden has been inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theater Hall of Fame.
Born in 1905 into a theatrical family, this daughter of the famed vaudevillian Lew Fields fortunately did not listen to his warnings against a life in show business. With composer Jimmy McHugh she created such hits as "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Sunny Side of the Street," and "I'm in the Mood for Love." She and her brother Herbert created the libretto for the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Her stories of persevering young women produced shows like Redhead, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Sweet Charity. Fields was the first female lyricist to receive an Oscar (1936), an Antoinette Perry Award (1959), and membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1971).
Born Sophie Feldman in 1931, Totie was a New York-accented yenta who did self-deflating fat jokes amid extroverted kvetching. She began performing in the Catskills in 1963, and became a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show in the '70s. Diabetic, her health began to fail. In 1976, her leg had to be amputated. After being fitted with an artificial leg, she returned to work saying, "I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me." Two years later, though, in 1978, she died, inspirational, outrageous, and funny to the end.
The author of eight novels, she is best known for Fear of Flying: in print in 27 languages, it has sold approximately 12 million copies worldwide. Also a poet, Jong has taught literature and writing at several universities and has received many honors. Born Emily Mann in 1942 and raised on Manhattan's Upper West Side, she attended New York's prestigious High School of Music and Art, Barnard College and Columbia University, where she earned her M.A. in Eighteenth-century English Literature. Jong lives in New York City and Weston, Connecticut.
The highly accomplished writer was born in New York City on April 17, 1928. Her parents, pharmacists, were Russian immigrants who embraced the Litvak tradition of skepticism, rationalism, and antimysticism--as opposed to the exuberant emotionalism of the Hasidic community. At the age of five, Ozick entered heder for religious instruction where the rabbi told her bobe, "Take her home; a girl doesn't have to study." Ozick is especially grateful to her grandmother for bringing her back to school the very next day, insisting that she be accepted, dates her feminism to that time. Some of her works have included The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories, The Puttermesser Papers and Fame and Folly: Essays. Ozick has won half a dozen coveted awards and grants, including both a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has received several honorary doctorates and was invited to deliver the Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Harvard University.
Born in New York City in 1922, she studied at Hunter College and New York University. She taught at Columbia and Syracuse Universities during the 1960s, then became a teacher at Sarah Lawrence College. Early in her career she was a poet, but she is most noted for her mastery of the short story form, for which she has received many honors. A feminist and peace activist, she lives in New York City and Thetford, Vermont. Her works have included Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, Later the Same Day, and Just As I Thought. She was the first recipient of the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit, has received a Guggenheim fellowship (1961), a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1966), an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1970), and Senior Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, in recognition of her lifetime contribution to literature (1987).
She was born in 1893 to a Jewish father (Rothschild) and a Scottish mother who died when Parker was five years old; her father remarried a strict Roman Catholic, whom Dorothy bitterly disliked. Parker always maintained an image of herself as an outsider and often said of herself that she was "just a little Jewish girl trying to be cute." Her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope (1926), became an instant best-seller. She became a core member of the celebrated "Algonquin Round Table." Her acerbic and irreverent sense of humor marked Parker's work with uniqueness and made it memorable. She died in 1967.
Born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, the talk show host, actor and comedian gained notoriety while working as the regular stand-in for Johnny Carson (1983-86) and honing her act in comedy clubs. She won an Emmy for The Joan Rivers Show (1989-93) and has also appeared on other television programs and in feature films. Following the suicide of her husband, producer Edgar Rosenberg, Rivers and her daughter Melissa starred together in Tears and Laughter (1994). In 1998 she and Melissa began co-hosting fashion specials on the E! cable network.
Born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee in 1920, Dinah was the first woman to have her own television variety show and won Emmys every year from 1954-1959. She began singing on the radio in New York City and by 1943 had her own radio show. During World War II, Shore became the first woman to visit GIs on the front lines. Her long marriage to actor George Montgomery ended in divorce. In 1972 she founded the Dinah Shore Classic, one of the first important money-winning tournaments for women golfers.
The ground breaking writings experiments of Stein reflect her genius for toying with language and its meanings. She hails from Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where she was born in 1874, the seventh child of German immigrants. By age seventeen both her parents had died. She earned a B.A. magna cum laude at the Harvard Annex (later Radcliffe College), then studied briefly at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In 1903 she and her brother Leo left for Paris and the art world. The close relationship folded upon Leo's awareness of his sister's lesbianism. Alice B. Toklas became Gertrude's lifelong companion, and their home became a hub for some of the greatest artists and writers of the modern era. In addition to her many books, like The Making of Americans, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Everybody's Autobiography, she wrote over seventy-six operas and plays, winning an Obie in 1964 for Four Saints in Three Acts . She died in 1946.
Born March 25, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio, the young Steinem was left to care for both herself and her mother after her parents' divorce . Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Smith College in 1956, she spent two years in India where she became involved with the nonviolent protest movement. She returned to the States with a new awareness of social and political issues. Starting out as a freelance journalist, in 1968 she joined the founding staff of New York magazine, writing the column "City Politic." In the late 60s she became one of feminism's most articulate and outspoken leaders. She helped form the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971 and, the following year, launched Ms. magazine, serving as its editor for the next 15 years. She's written several books, notable Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion and Revolution From Within, and has lectured world-wide. In September 2000, Steinem was married for the first time, at the age of 66, to David Bale, a South African-born entrepreneur.
Singer and entertainer, born Sophie Abuza in Russia in 1884 and brought to the U.S.A. as a child, she first performed in vaudeville in blackface, singing ragtime melodies. She almost stole the show in the Ziegfield Follies of 1909. She helped popularize songs of black composers such as Eubie Blake and was also known for racy lyrics. She appeared in several stage and movie musicals, but was especially known as a nightclub torch singer. A unionist, she served as president of the American Federation of Actors in 1938. "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas," as she billed herself in later years, died in 1966.
The performance artist-comedian describes her humor as a mix between her California cosmic right brain and her Philadelphia Jewish left brain. Born Marlena Weinstock in Philadelphia in 1943, she started performing under the name Maurey Haydn in Greenwich Village in the mid-Sixties. After the 1966 death of her boyfriend, famed comic Lenny Bruce, she reclaimed the name Weinstock, but traded in "Marlena" for "Lotus". Her heyday was at Los Angeles' Comedy Store in the mid-70s. She died of a malignant brain tumor in August 1997 at 54. Her daughter, Lili Hayden, is a classically trained pop violinist.