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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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Feinman, Sigmund [real name Asher-Zelig Feinman] (1862–1909), actor and playwright, was born Asher-Zelig Feinman on 28 April 1862 in Intshest, Ukraine. Since both his grandfathers had prominent roles in the synagogue, it was natural for Feinman to receive a traditional religious education. His father, however, was a manufacturer, and thus receptive to influences from beyond the Jewish sphere, so he sent his son to secular schools as well....

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Goldfaden, Avrom (1840–1908), playwright and theatre director, was born in Old Constantine, Ukraine, on 12 July 1840, one of four sons born to Khayim Lipe Goldenfodem, a watchmaker, and his wife, Khane Rivke. Like his brothers, he was apprenticed to his father, but in an effort to take advantage of a new tsarist decree offering the sons of Jewish families an alternative to conscription, he was sent to the rabbinical academy in ...

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David Kossoff (1919–2005) by unknown photographer, 1987 Rex Features

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Kossoff, David (1919–2005), actor and broadcaster, was born on 24 November 1919, at the Mothers' Hospital, Clapton, London, the son of Lewis (Louis) Kossoff, tailor, and his wife, Annie, née Shaklovich. At the time of his birth registration his parents, Russian Jewish immigrants, lived at ...

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Kustow, Michael David (1939–2014), author, theatre producer, and television executive, was born on 18 November 1939 at Suffolk House maternity home, Marsh Lane, Stanmore, Middlesex, the oldest of three children of Marcus (Mark) Kustow (1908–1994), who came from a Jewish-Russian immigrant family and sold children’s clothes in a shop at ...

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Adah Isaacs Menken (1835?–1868) by Sarony & Co. © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Menken, Adah Isaacs (1835?–1868), actress and poet, is thought to have been born on 15 June 1835 in New Orleans. At various times in her life she produced different versions of her parentage, giving her father's name as James McCord, Richard Spencer...

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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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Pinter, Harold (1930–2008), actor, playwright, and director, was born on 10 October 1930 at Tudor House, Newington Green, London, the only child of Hyman (Jack) Pinter (1902–1997), ladies' tailor, and his wife, Frances, née Moskowitz (1904–1992). At the time of his birth his parents lived at ...

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Harold Pinter (1930–2008) by Justin Mortimer, 1992 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Ingrid Pitt (1937–2010) by Bill Zygmant, 1975 © Bill Zygmant / Rex Features

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Pitt, Ingrid (1937–2010), actress and writer, was born on 21 November 1937 in Poland, the daughter of a German father and a Polish Jewish mother. Many biographical accounts give her birth name as Ingoushka Petrov, although the origin of this is unclear. She herself gave her father's name as ...

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Shulman, Milton (1913–2004), theatre critic and writer, was born on 30 August 1913 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Samuel Shulman (d. 1919), shopkeeper, and his wife, Ethel. His parents were both Orthodox Jewish émigrés from the Ukraine who moved to ...