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

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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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Maker: Peter Keen

Gerard Hoffnung (1925–1959) by Peter Keen, late 1950s © Peter Keen; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hoffnung, Gerard [formerly Gerhardt] (1925–1959), cartoonist and musical humorist, was born in Grünewald, Berlin, on 22 March 1925, the only child of German-Jewish parents, Ludwig Hoffnung, a wealthy grain merchant, and his wife, Hilde, a widow, whose first husband, Schnabel, was killed in the First World War. His mother was a keen amateur musician and artist who encouraged his artistic talents. From his earliest years he was interested in the macabre—fairy tales, practical jokes, and the comic drawings of the famous German illustrators and caricaturists....

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Ludwig Karl Koch (1881–1974) by Fred Kormis, c. 1960 © reserved; unknown collection; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Koch, Ludwig Karl (1881–1974), broadcaster and sound recordist, was born on 13 November 1881 at Eschersheimer Landstrasse 20, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the second of the three children of Karl Theodor Koch, businessman, and his wife, Auguste Hess. Ludwig Koch's parents, both of whom were Jews, were enthusiastic music-lovers who introduced him into ...

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Milton, Ernest Gianello (1890–1974), actor and author, was born in San Francisco, California, USA, on 10 January 1890, the son of Martin Lichtenstaater Milton and Selma, née Wolff. He was educated at Clement Grammar School, San Francisco, and privately. His first performance on stage was in October 1912 at the ...

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Newman, Sydney Cecil (1917–1997), television producer, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 1 April 1917, the son of an Orthodox Jewish shoe salesman who had moved to Canada from Russia. He was educated at Ogden public school, Toronto, and then at the ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Norsa, Hannah (d. 1784), singer and actress, was the daughter of Issachar Norsa (d. 1748?), a Jewish tavern keeper. She made her stage début as Polly in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera on 16 December 1732 in the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre...

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Maker: Gordon Anthony

Dame Marie Rambert (1888–1982) by Gordon Anthony, 1938 V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Rambert, Dame Marie [née Cyvia Ramberg] (1888–1982), ballet dancer and founder of the Rambert Dance Company, was born in Poland on 20 February 1888 at Warsaw, then under Russian domination, the third of six children (four girls and two boys) of Yakov Ramberg...

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Mary Stephens Wells (1762–1829) by John Downman © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Wells [née Davies; other married name Sumbel], Mary Stephens (1762–1829), actress, one of the three daughters of Thomas Davies, a carver and gilder in Birmingham, was born in that city on 16 December 1762. Her father died in a madhouse while she was a small child. Her mother kept a tavern frequented by actors, including ...