If you judge Hollywood by celebrity names, you’d think Jews never made the cut (there’s a bris joke in there somewhere.) For some reason, most of the Jewish sounding Hollywood names belong to gentiles who changed their names to fit in. The gentile-named celebrities are often Jews trying to fit in with the gentiles trying to fit in with the Jews. OY!
Here’s a list of some classic name changes that our friends at JSpace put together of Jews trying to lower their Jewbellish Score:
7. Albert Brooks
Real Name: Albert Einstein
The need for a name change was probably obvious at an early age for this American-born Jew, who would later go on to become a leading comedic actor and stand-up act. Over his long career, Brooks has made a name for himself as favorites of the likes of Johnny Carson and “Saturday Night Live.”
Real Name: Allen Konigsberg
Famed director Woody Allen has become a household name due to such smash hits as “Annie Hall” or more recently, “Blue Jasmine.” Brooklynite Allen, born Konigsberg, has a strong Jewish connection too, as both his parents were second-generation Jewish immigrants.
Real Name: Lawrence Harvey Zeigler
The longtime late-night talk show host is also a Brooklyn native, like his fellow funnyman Woody Allen. King was born in 1933 to Orthodox Jews who had emigrated from Russia.
Real Name: Bernice Frankel
Everyone’s favorite “Golden Girl” was born in New York in May of 1926, the second of three daughters of Jewish parents. As a Jewish child growing up Cambridge, Maryland, Frankel faced anti-Semitism from her peers, according the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Real Name: Natalie Herschlag
Famous for her portrayals of everyone from Anakin Skywalker’s love interest in the “Star Wars” prequels to the neurotic, talented and ultimately doomed prima ballerina in the “Black Swan,”Portman goes by her grandmother’s maiden name. Born in Jerusalem in 1981, Portman is arguably one of the most recognizable Jewish actresses today, something that is both a blessing and a curse. “Like, every Jewish role comes to me,” the actress told Marie-Claire magazine in November.
Real Name: Erich Weisz
The world-famous magician and escape artist was born in 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, although for years he would claim he was born in Wisconsin, where his family later moved. Houdini was one of seven brothers and sisters, and his father was a Jewish rabbi.
Real Name: Chaim Witz
Although he would later found classic 1970s rocker group KISS, Simmons was actually born in 1949 in Haifa, Israel. For most of his childhood, Simmons was raised by his single mother, Flora, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor whose family perished in Nazi concentration camps. Simmons and his mother eventually moved to New York City, where he learned English and began to become interested in the music scene.