Jews in the News: Elizabeth Banks, John Forsythe and Clive Davis

Movie Notes and a Lox Tale

“Ford v. Ferrari” opens  on Friday, the 15th. In 1963, the Italian car company Ferrari was approached by Ford with a buy-out offer. Talks ended when Enzo Ferrari realized that a buy-out would include the purchase of his company’s highly successful racing program. Ford’s head, Henry Ford II (Tracey Letts), directed his racing division to develop a car that could beat Ferrari. JON BERENTHAL, 43, has a big supporting role as Lee Iacocca, then the vice-president of Ford.

Opening the same day is “Charlie’s Angels.” It is, of course, based on the ‘70s TV series and it follows two previous feature films about the Angels. The gimmick in this one is that the private agency that employs the Angels has expanded and now there are several teams of Angels along with several “Bosleys” (Bosley is the company liaison to the Angels from Charlie, their unseen employer).  Kristen Stewart is the most famous actress playing an Angel and Patrick Stewart is the most famous Bosley.

ELIZABETH BANKS, 45, also plays “a Bosley”. She also directed the film and wrote it.  JONATHAN TUCKER, 37, is reported to playing the film’s villain, but they haven’t released his character name for unknown reasons. Tucker, whose mother is Jewish, has worked steadily since 2000, but it’s hard to point to a credit everybody would know.

Charlie only talks to the Angels by speakerphone and the new film doesn’t credit anyone as the voice of Charlie. Banks said in an interview that the voice will be close to the voice of JOHN FORSYTHE (1918-2010). He voiced Charlie on the TV series. I long knew that Forsythe, who was born John Lincoln Freund, had considerable Jewish ancestry. However, his entire family tree was recently posted on-line.  It reveals that his father was a Russian Jewish immigrant and his mother was the daughter of German Jewish immigrants.  (Forsythe is best remembered for playing Blake Carrington on “Dynasty,” the hit ‘80s TV show).

Trust me when I say that I know that Forsythe always ran away from his Jewish background. Here’s just one story to support this statement. An old Los Angeles friend tells me was a member of the Hollywood Park Turf Club in the 1970s and '80s.  Turf Club members could watch the horse races from a comfortable area and fancy buffet food was served members. Forsythe was also a Club member.

A frequent Turf Club guest of my friend was actor PAUL STEWART (1908-1986). Stewart, born Paul Sternberg, got Orson Welles his first job in radio; was an important member of Welles’ Mercury Theater; played Kane’s butler in “Citizen Kane”; appeared in scores of films; and directed hundreds of radio and TV shows. My friend tells me that Stewart knew that John was a "closet Jew", so he would needle him about that. Some of his "needles" were so funny that other Club members would laugh. John would never respond to Stewart. He'd just smile. One “needle” my friend remembers came when John was looking down at some smoked salmon on the buffet table. Stewart said, “Its lox, John; you’re Jewish, you know that.”

TV/Streaming Offerings

The NBC show “New Leaf,” sponsored by, began airing on Oct. 5. The episode that first aired on Nov. 2 is entitled “Coming of Age.” It opens with single Los Angeles mom ALLISON BLUESTEIN deciding to put together a book of family history in honor of her son's bar mitzvah. However, Bluestein has a lot of gaps in her family history—ancestors she barely knows anything about. To the rescue comes show host Daisy Fuentes, who, with an army of family history experts, helps her fill-in the gaps.

I found the second half of the program the most interesting. Bluestein and Fuentes visited a local Jewish history museum where a staff member—using museum exhibits—gave historical context to the Bluestein family European ancestors. This segment is of value to just about any Jew with European roots. You can watch the episode (for free) on the NBC app, or on, or thru NBC on-demand (cable/satellite/Hulu).

Do catch on Neflix the 2017 documentary “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.” DAVIS, now 87, began as an entertainment lawyer. But, in 1967, he discovered he had an uncanny ear for hits. Decade after decade, he discovered and signed every sort of top act, from rock to rap, and, even now, he is still very much in the game. This one is worth your time.


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