White Hollywood, Black Films

by Alessio Franko   IF JORDAN PEELE’S socially conscious horror film Get Out wins this year’s Best Picture Oscar, I will cringe — not because the film doesn’t deserve the win (quite the contrary), but because, in that moment, the white members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will all become versions of that […]

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Danny Kaye from Brownsville

Actor/comedian Danny Kaye (David Daniel Kaminsky), a marvelous song-and-dance-and-everything man, died on this date in 1987. Kaye was born in 1911 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, to Ukrainian immigrant parents who called him “Duvidelleh.” After getting his start as a Borscht Belt entertainer, he would go on to star in seventeen movies, including The Secret […]

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Stella Adler

Stella Adler was born on New York City’s Lower East Side on this date in 1902 to Sara Adler (Levitskaya) and Jacob Adler, who were luminaries of the Yiddish stage; actress Celia Adler was her half-sister. Stella Adler was a child actor by four and a star in her own right by the 1920s, before studying Stanislavsky’s […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Full Disclosure, She Wrote a Note to My Son

THE WONDERFUL WORK OF MAIRA KALMAN by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Hey Willy, See the Pyramids by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Ooh-la-la (Max in Love) by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2018; Max in Hollywood, Baby by Maira Kalman, […]

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Wyatt Earp’s Main Squeeze

Wyatt Earp’s wife, Josephine Sarah Marcus, died at 84 on this date in 1944 (although some sources cite her yortsayt as December 19th). She claimed to have run away from home at 18 to join a theater troupe, but it is extremely difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to her life; she spun […]

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Ira Gershwin

Lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershowitz), a Pulitzer Prize-winner (for Of Thee I Sing, 1932) and prolific songwriting collaborator with his younger brother, George Gershwin, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1896. His parents were immigrants from Russia, who had come to the U.S. in 1891. After taking odd jobs […]

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“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” Revisited

MY FIFTEEN SECONDS OF FAUX FAME AND THE DANGEROUS CULT OF CELEBRITY by Sidney Finehirsh   AS I WALKED down Mass Ave in Cambridge several years ago, I was “recognized” as the celebrated Boston Red Sox third baseman. “Ain’t you Wade Boggs?” Immediately I smiled, thinking this guy must be extremely nearsighted. Still, I somehow felt […]

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Clancy Sigal’s 20th-Century Road Trip

by Marty Roth   “He was a romantic man, Clancy. The Left was then romantic, heroic, monitored by the ghosts of heroes and heroines.” —Doris Lessing THE ROLLER COASTER that was Clancy Sigal’s life and career has shut down, the lights turned off. What is still worth savoring? Although he was celebrated as a legendary figure […]

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