Philis Heller, Ed Skriein and Michal Huisman

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.

More Than a “Meet Cute”, Updates, a Movie, TV Shows, More

“Masters of the Air” premiered on Apple+ on Jan. 26. It follows the Allied air war over Europe during WWII. Most reviews were quite good. But some top critics said it was “okay”, but not as good as they expected. In my Jan. 25 column, I discussed the series and focused on Robert Rosenthal, a Jewish Air Force bomber pilot who had an incredibly heroic record.

Reviews say that Rosenthal (the character) has small role in the first half of the series and is a major character in the second half. This makes sense: Rosenthal didn’t get into combat until 1943 and he joined the fight as a replacement for a crew member who was rotated out, or was killed.

While we wait for the Rosenthal episodes, I thought I’d provide some more-than-fun facts that almost certainly won’t be in the series.

Rosenthal (1917-2007) was an outstanding college athlete, a lawyer, and war hero. But, there’s more!  His “How I met my wife story ” has a Hollywood cinematic feel to it—but it’s much more than a “meet cute”.

Rosenthal was in the States when ‘the bomb’ was dropped and WWII ended. As previously noted, he went back to Europe (1946), where he prosecuted lesser-known Nazis at the trials that took place in Nuremburg, Germany.

He was waiting for his Europe-bound ship to leave when he saw another  passenger (the future Mrs. Rosenthal) drive-up to the ship in her jeep. Their son, DAN, described his father’s reaction, “She was the most beautiful woman he ever saw.”  That woman was PHILLIS HELLER (1919-2011). She was a U.S. Navy attorney who was joining the same American legal team as Rosenthal. They fell in love almost instantly and were engaged in 10 days.

They had their wedding in Nuremburg and honeymooned near the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s notorious Alpine home.  Their wedding and honeymoon made a statement: “we Jews are here—as victors.”

The couple had three children, including Dan. He helped provide details of his late father’s life for the Masters of the Air filmmakers

Here’s updates on English actor ED SKREIN and Dutch actor MICHAL HUISMAN Huisman, co-stars of “Rebel Moon’, a big-budget Netflix film (see my Jan. 12 column). Skrein, I wrote, had a Jewish father. (I am still unclear if his mother is Jewish).  In a recent interview, Skrein said his Austrian Jewish paternal grandparents were “Kinderstransport” children. In 1938-39,  the British government  “accepted” 10,000 unaccompanied refugee Jewish children.

I previously wrote that Huisman’s wife, actress TARA ELDERS, has a Dutch (not Jewish) father and an American, possibly Jewish mother.  I have, now, confirmed that her mother is Jewish.  I previously noted that Elders’ Dutch paternal grandparents hid a Jewish family during WWII and saved their lives.

 “It Ends Here” is a film based on a big-selling novel about Lily, a woman whose father beat her mother and, to her shock, her husband, a doctor, turns out to be a wife-beater, too. Lily’s best friend, Allysa (played by JENNY SLATE, 41), is also Lily’s husband’s sister. (Opens Feb. 9).

The long actors’ strike delayed the fall return of many series. Two hit ABC shows are finally back: “The Connors” on Feb. 7 (8PM). Its co-stars include SARA GILBERT, 48--and-- “The Good Doctor” on Feb. 20 (10PM). It has two Jewish co-stars: RICHARD SCHIFF, 68, and NOAH GALVIN, 27.

Last August, I wrote that Minnesota Democratic Congressman DEAN PHILLIPS, 54, was launching a campaign to be the Democrats’ Presidential candidate. Phillips always voted with the President, so I was unclear why he was running.

Also mystified were New Hampshire primary voters. Phillips was on the ballot, but only got 20% of the vote, and President Biden, as a write-in candidate, got about 80%. Phillips is very wealthy, so he can keep on running. “The why” is unclear.

Political junkies know Steve Schmidt, 53. A former Republican, he managed John McCain’s 2008 campaign. Later, he was a prominent MSNBC contributor and a fierce anti-Trumper. Now he hosts “The Warning”, a quite popular Youtube channel. Not long ago, I read a CNN article that said that Schmidt had been Phillips’ manager, but they parted last December when it became clear to Schmidt that Phillips had no path to power and his campaign was only helping Trump.

Recently, a friend told me surprising news: in a July, 2023 interview (on: Schmidt disclosed that he was well-on the way to completing his conversion to Reform Judaism and he explained why Judaism was his path. Schmidt’s second and present wife is Jewish.


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