Clint’s Jewish Connections
Opening on Dec. 14th is “The Mule.” Clint Eastwood, 88 (who also directed) stars as Earl Stone, a character based on the late Leo Sharp, a decorated WWII veteran. After the war, Sharp raised prize-winning flowers on his farm. However, by 2000, the farm was losing money and Sharp became a drug “mule" for a Mexican drug cartel. For ten years, he drove his cocaine-packed car from the Mexican border to Detroit.
The film follows the 90-year-old Stone (Sharp) transporting cocaine. But as he does, he comes under the scrutiny of a top DEA agent (Bradley Cooper). Stone is aware that he may be arrested or “taken out” by the cartel before, as the film’s publicity says, “He has time to right past wrongs.”
There aren’t any major Jewish “connections” to this film. But, I thought, after all the funeral oratory last week, to list, here, some of Eastwood’s “Jewish-related nuggets” while he’s still very much alive. Let this short list enhance your viewing: (1) Eastwood is “mostly” a Republican. But he endorsed DIANNE FEINSTEIN when she first (1994) ran for the Senate. That first race was tough and Eastwood’s nod helped her. (2) The only telephone calls Eastwood always let though are ones from what Clint calls his “Jewish mafia” (his agent, his accountants, and his lawyers); 3) Eastwood calls director DON SIEGEL (1912-1991) one of his prime influences. Siegel directed the films (“Dirty Harry” and four others), that made Eastwood more than a star of Westerns made in Italy and he taught Eastwood how to direct like him—briskly, with no nonsense allowed. (4) From 1990 to 1996, Eastwood’s romantic partner was actress FRANCES FISHER, now 66. Fisher’s father was Jewish. Their daughter is actress Francesca Eastwood, 26; and (5) In 2004, a reporter started to ask Clint about the Oscar chances for “Mystic River" (2003), a film he directed. He exclaimed: “Kinehora!" Clint then laughed and explained it was a Jewish expression meant to ward off a jinx.
CNN anchor JAKE TAPPER, 49, had a lot to kvell about when he was a guest, last week, on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” First, he and Meyers discussed a movie now being shot that’s based on Tapper’s book, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” (2013). This critically-acclaimed best-seller tells the story of a horrendous attack on an American base in Afghanistan. Tapper noted that it is being directed by ROD LURIE, 56. Lurie, who was born in Israel, is a West Point graduate and a former U.S. Army officer. (Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son, is an “Outpost” co-star).
The conversation then turned to Tapper’s daughter, ALICE PAUL TAPPER, 11. Next March, Alice has her first book coming out! It’s a picture book for children entitled, “Raise Your Hand.” Jake explained that his daughter noticed that boys raise their hand in class much more than girls, even if they don’t know the answer. Last year, Tapper tweeted about how Alice had created a new Girl Scout badge, “Raise Your Hand,” to encourage class participation. NY Times editor BARI WEISS saw the tweet and asked Alice to write a Times Op-Ed on the subject, which she did. That article lead to the book. (The profits will go to the Girl Scouts).
Notes on a Funeral
Wondering about the Episcopal priest, Russell Jones Levenson, Jr., who was the personal pastor of the late President Bush? He spoke at both the funeral in Washington and the service in Texas. Well, the story of how a “Levenson” became a minister was told by his aunt, JOHANNA LEVENSON FITZPATRICK, 72, a retired Virginia appellate judge. The Judge, a liberal Democrat, did an oral history interview that is on Youtube. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. She and her much-older brother, Russell, were raised in no faith and the Judge, it seems, never became religious, but identifies as Jewish. She says that the intense social discrimination she faced as a young Jew in Birmingham lead her to become a civil rights lawyer. However, her brother, she says, “went the other way” (devout Christian) and his son is President Bush’s pastor. She sort of chuckled when she said her nephew was “Father Levenson.”
Retired Senator Alan K. Simpson, who eulogized President Bush, said that Bush never lost his sense of humor because he knew that “humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life.” I thought-- it wasn’t his intention—but Simpson encapsulated in one sentence why so many Jews are funny. Simpson, I should add, is one funny WASP and if anyone creates a site called “Old WASPs Telling Jokes,” they should call on Simpson first.