Historical Jews at the Academy Awards

Historical Jews at the Academy Awards

Academy Awards

Despite the common belief that Hollywood is dominated by Jews, but that has not stopped the jokes that have poured off the Academy Awards stage that come right up to the line of anti-Semitic. Throughout history, the Jewish population, in Hollywood, has taken and given the hits.

Historical Jewish Moments at the Academy Awards

Academy Awards

1968 – Bob Hope hosted the Academy Awards and opened the evening with, “Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it’s known at my house, Passover.” This was also Hope’s way of letting the audience know that he had been consistently passed over for an Academy Awards nomination throughout his career.

1969 – Barbra Streisand won Best Actress for Funny Girl, the movie version. Her win was an upset, but Streisand shared her award with Katherine Hepburn. This was one of a few ties in the history of the Academy Awards. Other women who were nominated in the Best Actress category were Joanne Woodward and Vanessa Redgrave. Hepburn was not in attendance at the Academy Awards, so Streisand took the stage alone.

Streisand stood on the stage in a see-through sequined pantsuit and spoke to her Oscar, “Hello, gorgeous.” This was the opening line of Funny Girl and it sealed her persona as an actress. Her speech ended with, “Somebody once asked me if I was happy, and I said, ‘Are you kidding? I would be miserable if I was happy.’ And I’d like to thank all the members of the academy for making me really miserable.”

1978 – Vanessa Redgrave won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Julia. She played an American psychoanalyst, in Austria, who assisted in the Jews escape in the 1930s. However, Redgrave having won the respect of her peers could not let it go without stirring up controversy.

It was well-known that Redgrave was a supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as she had produced a pro-PLO documentary. Redgrave took the stage at the Academy Awards, Oscar in hand and referred to Israel as a state of authoritarian leadership. She also stated that she was grateful to the academy for not being intimidated by “Zionist hoodlums.”

That same night in 1978, Paddy Chayefsky, a Jewish screenwriter and three-time Oscar winner said, from the podium, that the Academy Awards was not a place for people to speak their rhetoric and political propaganda. He then told Redgrave that her award was not an historical moment that required her announcement. She should have simply said, “Thank you.”

Also in 1978, Woody Allen, who did not attend the Academy Awards that year, won Best Director and Best Screenplay. Then he retired for the night before his movie, Annie Hall, won Best Film over Star Wars.

In 1993, the academy seemed to be considering Steven Spielberg as a serious filmmaker and he won an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture for Schindler’s List.

In 2006, Spielberg was nominated for his film, Munich. Jon Stewart opened for the evening by stating, “Schindler’s List and Munich…I think I speak for all Jews when I say, I can’t wait to see what happens to us next!”

Steve Martin opened the Academy Awards in 2010, he referred to Christoph Waltz in the audience, describing his role in Inglourious Basterds, as a “Nazi obsessed with finding Jews.” Martin then opened his arms to the audience and announced, “Well Christoph…the motherlode!” Martin meant no harm.

John Travolta, in 2014, made headlines at the Academy Awards when he announced Jewish actress-singer Idina Menzel, as Adele Dazeem. He blamed his flirting with Goldie Hawn backstage on his faux pas.

One of the most offensive moments in the history of the Academy Awards was in 2013, when Seth MacFarlane was the host. As the voice of Ted, from the film of the same name, he went too far trying to charm his way into the film industry with the Jews. He even made a promise to donate money to Israel. However, MacFarlane’s jokes did not amuse his audience.

MacFarlane caused an outrage that involved the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Ironically, the website for the Academy Awards has a video posted on their site of MacFarlane’s atrocity under “Funniest Oscar Moments of All Time.”

And the Jewish Academy Award Nominees Are:

The Revenant has 11 nominations. It was produced by the Israeli prolific filmmaker Arnon Milchan with cinematography created by Jewish-Mexican Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern or “El Chivo.”

Room, nominated for four Academy Awards. One nomination is for Best director, Irish-Jewish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson. Abrahamson claims to be the third famous Irish Jew ever.

Winter on Fire has been nominated for Best Documentary. The film was directed by Israeli Evgeny Afineevsky.

The Hateful Eight rejuvenated Kurt Russell’s career and brought Jennifer Jason Leigh back to the big screen. She is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a leading role.

Bridge of Spies has been nominated for Best Picture, claiming an all-star Jewish cast. Director Steven Spielberg and screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, a Jewish writing team.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been nominated for five Academy Awards. Directed by J.J. Abrams, two nominees for the film include Original Score and Film Editing.

If history repeats itself, the Jewish nominees for the 88th Academy Awards will be equally entertaining and historic.

By Jeanette Smith


Forward: The Secret Jewish History of the Academy Awards
Jewish News: Jewish Oscar nominees

Inline Image Courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Phil Shirley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License