Jews in the News: Bob Saget, Rick Glassman and Jason Katims

Bob Saget: You Probably Didn't Know This; Autism on Amazon, WASPs Battle

A day after BOB SAGET died, the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) did a good job of pulling together excerpts of interviews in which he discussed being Jewish. In short, he was “really Jewish”, but not very practicing for most of his adult life. The JTA article did touch on the fact that his faith in religion was shaken by the very premature deaths of his two adult sisters, the only siblings he knew.

 I checked out Saget’s 2014 memoir, “Dirty Daddy”, and learned that death haunted him his whole life. Saget practically begins his book with telling us about the death of three of his uncles. They all died before 50 from heart attacks. The tragedies don’t end there. His mother gave birth to a twin boy and girl in 1954. A dysentery outbreak hit the hospital and killed nine babies, including the twins. Saget was born two years—to the day—after the twins’ death.

Saget’s ex-wife is SHELLI KRAMER, about 65. She is the mother of his three adult daughters. Kramer is a licensed therapist in California and I am 95% sure she is Jewish. I don’t know more because details about Bob’s children and ex-wife are not out there. It’s clear that Saget protected their privacy. In his book, he does not mention them by name (he says “my daughter” and my “ex-wife”).

 His book has just one story about his wife and oldest daughter (whose name is AUBREY SAGET. She’s now 34). Before telling the story, Saget informs his readers that he got permission from his ex and his daughter to tell this story. Here goes: his wife got an epidural just before she went into labor. The injection “missed” her spinal cord and the drugs went straight into her blood stream. She went into a coma and was, for hours, at the edge of death. The baby was delivered through a C-Section.

Saget described the terrible anxiety that he, and two sets of grandparents, went through-- and the relief they felt when his wife “fooled” the doctors and regained consciousness sooner than expected.

You know, it’s a cliché that comedians come from unhappy families. But Saget is something else---his family was not unhappy in the usual way—fighting parents, no money, child abuse, etc. His parents were a traditional, Jewish middle-class couple. They loved each other and they loved their children.

 Saget knew that the specter of death informed a lot of his stand-up humor---graveyard humor he called it. But, maybe, the happy, loving side of his growing-up informed the light side of Saget---the guy who is being called “America’s Dad” and the mensch who has been universally praised as being “really nice” and a “good friend.”

 After his death, an amazing number of people (not all celebrities) told stories about Saget’s extraordinary personal kindnesses-- listening to them, counseling them, and encouraging them. I’ll always remember the image of Jimmy Kimmel repeatedly breaking down in tears as he eulogized Saget on his show. One comment really struck me. Saget, he said, was very funny in private life, but he never got a laugh by saying something mean about anyone.

 "As We See It" is an American series based on “On the Spectrum”, an internationally acclaimed Israeli series. All eight, first season episodes will begin streaming on Amazon Prime on Jan. 21. The Amazon series, like the Israeli series, centers on three young-ish, autistic persons who live in a hostel for adults with autism. The hostel staff tries to transition these young-ish folks into independent living.

RICK GLASSMAN, 37, an American comedian, who has Asperger's Syndrome (a form of autism), plays one of the three main characters in the Amazon series.  "As We See It" was created by JASON KATIMS, 61, a veteran show-writer/producer. Katims is the father of an autistic child.

 "The Gilded Age" premieres on HBO on Jan. 24. This "prestige" series was created by, and is written by Julian Fellowes, the Brit who created and wrote "Downton Abbey". It follows the clash, in the 1880s, between the "old money" New York City elite and rich newcomers.

There appears to be no Jewish characters in the first season. However, MORGAN SPECTOR, 41, whose father is Jewish, has a juicy part as George Russell, a classic "new money" robber baron. I suspect in future seasons wealthy “clearly” Jewish characters will "brush up" against the "old guard". This was the case in later seasons of "Downton Abbey”, which was set in the U.K. in the early 20th century.


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