Jews in the News: Gal Gadot, Scarlett Johansson and Billy Crystal


Gadot's resume and life history reads like the bio of a Jewish super woman: born and raised in Rosh Hayin, a town of about 38,000 in central Israel, she grew-up in what she describes as a very Jewish/Israeli family environment. In 2004, when she was 19, she won the Miss Israel pageant and represented her country at the Miss Universe competition. She continued to model, part time, as she performed her two-year military service (2005-2007; she was a sports trainer for the military). In 2007, she got an Israeli film role and, since then, she has guested on several American TV shows. But wait! She's also an avid high-performance motorcycle rider and a mother (wed Israeli businessman in 2008; they had a girl in 2011).


Gadot follows four other Jewish women who've played comic-book superheroes in movies/on TV (no others have had military training, however). Here's my list: HELEN SLATER, now 49, title role in "Supergirl" (1984); ALICIA SILVERSTONE, now 37, "Batgirl" in "Batman and Robin" (1997); DINA MEYER, now 44, as "Batgirl/the Oracle" in 2002 TV series, "Birds of Prey"; and SCARLETT JOHANSSON, now 29, as Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow in several films, including "The Avengers" (2012).


At the Movies


"The Hobbitt: The Desolation of Smaug," is the second film in director Peter Jackson's film trilogy adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" 'prequel' book, "The Hobbitt." The mostly British cast of the first film returns, with Martin Freeman again starring as lead character Bilbo Baggins. Brit STEPHEN FRY, 56, appears as the "Master of Laketown": the leader of a settlement near Lonely Mountain. The film's score is by HOWARD SHORE, 67, who won three Oscars for his work on Jackson's "Rings" films. (Opens Friday, Dec. 12)


Orlando Bloom has a co-starring role as the fierce warrior Legolas.  It's been a long time since I laid-out Bloom's odd background so here it is again: When he was born in England (1977), Orlando's legal parents were HARRY BLOOM (1913-1981), a South African born Jew, and Sonia Copeland Bloom, a non-Jewish writer who was much younger than her husband. Harry was a top lawyer in South Africa and the UK; a talented anti-apartheid novelist; and an anti-racism activist who was close friends with Nelson Mandela. He wed Sonia in 1969; but suffered a stroke in the early '70s that made him an invalid. Reportedly, "all parties" consented to Sonia having a relationship with a non-Jewish family friend who became Orlando's biological father. Orlando, who was raised Protestant, but has long been a Buddhist, was told about his biological father when he was 13.


Fatherhood: Odds and Ends


BILLY CRYSTAL's hit stage show, "700 Sundays," will be filmed on Broadway in early January and will be broadcast on HBO sometime in 2014. The title originated from Crystal's 2005 book of the same name in which he recounted his relationship with his father, JACK CRYSTAL, who suddenly died when Billy was 15 (1963). The title refers to the fact that Billy spent 700 Sundays over 15 years with his father. (Other days of the week his father worked long hours). Crystal wrote the book as a script for a one-man show and his 2005 original Broadway version of the play won a special Tony Award.


On Nov. 30, MTV premiered a new, six-part reality series, "Generation Cyro" (new episodes air Monday evenings. Encores all week. Also on-line for free. Finale on Dec. 30). In short: it is about several children of the same sperm donor, in different parts of the country, seeking out their half-siblings. This same "busy" donor may have hundreds of "bio" kids. Advance reviews don't say if he will be named and shown--but we know he's a 5'10'' Jewish man in Oakland, CA. I imagine learning you're "half Jewish" might come as a shock to some.


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