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Adler, Jacob (1855–1926), actor, was born on 1 January 1855 in Odessa, Ukraine, the son of Feivl Abramovich, an Orthodox Jewish wheat merchant, and his wife, Hesye. Of the twelve children of Hesye and Feivl (she had one son with her first husband, whom she divorced), only ...

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Allan, Elkan Philip (1922–2006), journalist and television producer, was born Elkan Philip Cohen at 16 Hoveden Road, Cricklewood, London, on 8 December 1922, the son of Allan Cohen, (d. 1952), furrier, later an owner of printing presses, and his wife, Rose, née...

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Asherson, Renée [real name Dorothy Renée Ascherson] (1915–2014), actress, was born on 19 May 1915 at 2 Cornwall Gardens, Kensington, London, the younger daughter of Charles Stephen Ascherson (1877–1945), a shipowner of German Jewish descent, and his second wife, ...

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Balcon, Sir Michael Elias (1896–1977), film producer, was born on 19 May 1896 at 116 Summer Lane, Edgbaston, Birmingham, the youngest son and fourth of five children of Louis Balcon (c.1858–1946) and his wife, Laura Greenberg (c.1863–1934). His parents, Jewish immigrants from ...

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Sir Michael Elias Balcon (1896–1977) by Howard Coster, 1936 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Banbury, (Frederick Harold) Frith (1912–2008), actor, theatre director, and producer, was born on 4 May 1912 at 8 The Terrace, The Hoe, Plymouth, the elder child of Captain Frederick Arthur Frith Banbury (1874–1951), naval officer, and his wife, Winifred, née Fink (1876/7–1960). His sister ...

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Thompson Cooper

revised by John Wells

Barnett, Morris (1800–1856), actor and playwright, was of Jewish descent. He trained as a musician, and the earlier part of his life was spent in Paris. Having resolved to earn his living as an actor, he went as a comedian to Brighton and then to ...

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Baron, (Joseph) Alexander (1917–1999), novelist and screenwriter, was born Joseph Alexander Bernstein on 4 December 1917 at 30 Penyston Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, the son of Barnet Bernstein, later Baron (1894–1977), a Polish-born furrier, and his wife, Fanny, née Levinson (1895–1973). Once settled in ...

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Bass, Alfred [Alfie] [formerly Abraham Basalinsky] (1916–1987), actor, was born on 10 April 1916 at 7 Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green, London, the youngest among the ten children of Jacob Basalinsky, a cabinet-maker, and his wife, Ada Miller. After an elementary school education he followed his father's trade, but was also engaged in local boys' club dramatics. He was early on active in supporting the labour movement, often attended union meetings, and took part in the battle of ...

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Berk [née Heymansohn], Lieselotte [Lotte] (1913–2003), dancer and fitness trainer, was born on 17 January 1913 in Cologne, Germany, the only daughter of Jewish parents. Her Russian father, Nicolai Heymansohn, was originally a tailor and owned shops selling clothing for men. Her German mother died of a stroke when ...

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Berman, Nestor Montague [Monty] (1913–2006), film and television producer, was born on 16 August 1913 at 25 Whitechapel Road, London, the son of Israel (otherwise Isadore) Reuben Berman, musician, and his wife, Fanny, née Josephvitz. He was of Jewish descent. He was educated at ...

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Bernhardt, Sarah Henriette Rosine (1844–1923), actress, was born, probably on 22 or 23 October 1844, in Paris, the first of the three daughters of Julie Bernhardt (d. 1876), a Jewish courtesan from Amsterdam. The identity of her father remains unknown, although he is sometimes given as ...

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Sarah Henriette Rosine Bernhardt (1844–1923) by Histed private collection

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Brandt, George William (1920–2007), film-maker and scholar of film, television, and drama, was born Georg Wilhelm Brandt in Berlin on 8 October 1920, the eldest child of a Jewish businessman. The family left Germany in 1933 and eventually settled in England, where he completed his secondary education at ...

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Alan Coren (1938–2007) by Terry O'Neill, 1990 Getty Images

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Coren, Alan (1938–2007), humorous writer, was born on 27 June 1938 at 2 Queensdown Road, Hackney, London, the son of Samuel Coren, builder and plumber, and his wife, Martha, née Coren, hairdresser. At the time of his birth registration his parents lived at ...

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Ivor Cutler (1923–2006) by Angela Deane-Drummond, 1974 Getty Images

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Cutler, Ivor (1923–2006), humorist and singer, was born Isadore Cutler on 15 January 1923 at 3 Ralston Drive, Govan, Glasgow, the second son and third of five children of Jack Morris Cutler, draper and jeweller, and his wife, Paulina (Polly), née Goldberg. Both his parents were Jewish, and had arrived in ...

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Sheila Van Damm (1922–1987) by Lewis Morley, 1962 © Lewis Morley, courtesy of The Akehurst Bureau; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Damm, Sheila Van (1922–1987), rally driver and theatre director, was born on 17 January 1922 in Gloucester Terrace, Paddington, London, the youngest of three daughters (there were no sons) of Vivian Van Damm (d. 1960) and his wife, Natalie Lyons. Although her father had sponsored motorcycle speedway events in the 1920s, before inheriting the ...