Personalities of Jewish and ethnic Ukrainian background are strongly represented in the performing arts?
Personalities in the Performing Arts who are of Ukrainian-Jewish Background
|Theodore Bikel (b. 1924). Versatile actor of film, stage, and television, as well as a multilingual folk singer and musician. Bikel is a master of languages and accents and played roles in such films as The African Queen and The Enemy Below, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Defiant Ones. He created the role of Captain Von Trapp in the original Broadway cast of The Sound of Music. Bikel was born in Vienna to parents who emigrated to Austria from Bukovina.
Photo credit: www.bikel.com
|Bob Dylan (b. 1941). Musician, singer-songwriter, and influential figure in pop music and culture. Dylan became one of the definitive songwriters of the 1960s protest movement and is considered one of the most original and poetic voices in the history of American music. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan has forged a remarkable career for over five decades, selling millions of records worldwide. He has received numerous awards, including the Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards, as well as a special Pultizer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His paternal grandparents emigrated to the United States from Odessa in the early 1900s.
Photo credit: Chris Hakkens
|Dustin Hoffman (b. 1937). American actor with an illustrious career in film, television, and theatre since 1960. Hoffman is well known for his versatile portrayals of antiheroes and vulnerable characters in such landmark films as Midnight Cowboy and The Graduate. He won Oscars for best actor in Rain Man and Kramer vs. Kramer. Hoffman was born in Los Angeles to an Ashkenazi family of immigrants from Kyiv and Iasi, Romania.
Photo credit: Georges Biard
|Vladimir Horowitz (1903-89). Classical virtuoso pianist and composer widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Horowitz was born in Kyiv to an assimilated Jewish family and studied at the Kyiv Conservatory. He moved to the West in 1925, and made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1928.|
|Danny Kaye (1913-87). American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. His performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire nonsense songs. In the movie The Inspector General, he sings the “Lutche Bulo” section of the Ukrainian song “Yikhav Kozak za Dunai.” Kaye was born David Daniel Kaminsky, and was the son of an immigrant Jewish-Ukrainian tailor.|
|Walter Matthau (1920-2000). American actor best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with Odd Couple co-star Jack Lemmon, as well as his role as Coach Buttermaker in the 1976 comedy The Bad News Bears. Matthau was born Walter John Matthow in New York. His father was a peddler in Kyiv before coming to the United States.|
|Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015). Actor, film director, poet, singer, and photographer, best known for his role of Spock in the original Star Trek series. Nimoy was born in Boston in 1931 to parents who were Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Izyaslav, Ukraine.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
|Otto Preminger (1905-86). Prominent theatre and film director, who directed over 35 feature films in a five-decade career, including Forever Amber, The Man With the Golden Arm, and Exodus. He was born into a Jewish family in Vizhnits (Vyzhnytsya) in northern Bukovina, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today Ukraine.
Photo credit: Allan Warren
|William Shatner (b. 1931). Actor, musician, singer, author, film director, spokesman and comedian, who became a cultural icon for his portrayal of James T. Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise, in the science fiction television series Star Trek. Shatner was born in Montreal, Canada. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from towns that are within the borders of contemporary Ukraine.|
|Steven Spielberg (b. 1946). Film director, screenwriter, producer, and business magnate, regarded as one of the most popular and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Over more than four decades, Spielberg’s films have covered many themes and genres, including science-fiction and adventure films (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, and Jurassic Park), and films addressing moral issues, such as the Holocaust (Schindler’s List), the transatlantic slave trade (Amistad), war (Saving Private Ryan), and terrorism (Munich). Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and all four grandparents were from Ukraine. In 2006, Spielberg visited Ukraine for the showing of the film Spell Your Name, a documentary he co-produced with the Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Viktor Pinchuk, about Babyn Yar (Babi Yar), a site outside Kyiv where the Nazis slaughtered more than 33,000 Jews in two days in September 1941.
Photo credit: Georges Biard
|Isaac Stern (1920-2001). Violinist and conductor, renowned for his recordings and for discovering new musical talent, including cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Jian Wang, and violinists Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. Born into a Jewish family in Kremianets (Krzemieniec) in Ukraine’s Ternopil oblast, Stern moved with his family to San Francisco at age fourteen months.|
Personalities in the Performing Arts who are of Ethnic Ukrainian Background
|Oleksandr Dovzhenko (1894-1956). Soviet screenwriter, film producer, and director. Dovzhenko is often cited as one of the most important early Soviet filmmakers, alongside Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, as well as being a pioneer of Soviet montage theory. He is best known in the West for his “Ukraine Trilogy”–Zvenyhora, Arsenal, and Zemlya (Earth); the latter, a Soviet propaganda film about the collectivization of farms in Ukraine, is considered one of the most important Soviet films ever made and a masterpiece of world cinema. Dovzhenko was born in a townlet in Chernihiv oblast.|
|Bill Evans (1929-80). American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting. Widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Evans performed with such jazz legends as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderly, Stan Getz, and Tony Bennett. He recorded more than fifty albums and received five Grammy awards as well as a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Evans was born in New Jersey to a father of Welsh descent and a mother of Ukrainian Rusyn ancestry.
Photo credit: Brian McMillen
|Luba Goy. Canadian comedienne, writer, and one of the stars of The Royal Canadian Air Farce. Goy, a graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal, has performed with the Stratford Theatre and has played over three thousand characters in her comedy, voice-over animation, television, radio, and film career. As a member of Air Farce, Goy has received numerous awards, including the Governor-General’s Performing Arts Reward, fifteen Actras, and a Juno. Goy was born in Germany to Ukrainian parents and raised in Ottawa.
Photo credit: Tabercil
|Milla Jovovich (b. 1975). American actress, musician, model, and fashion designer. Jovovich has appeared in numerous science fiction and action-themed films, and is well known for her roles in The Fifth Element, Resident Evil, and Joan of Arc. Jovovich was born in Kyiv to the Russian actress of Ukrainian origin, Galina Mikhaylovna Loginova.
Photo credit: Georges Biard
|Ruslana Lyzhychko (b. 1973). Singer, songwriter, producer, musical conductor, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, voice actress, and social activist, known mononymously as Ruslana. She is a World Music Award and Eurovision Song Contest winning artist for her most popular song “Wild Dances.” Ruslana, a former deputy in the Ukrainian parliament, holds the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine. She was born in Lviv.
Photo credit: WildEnergy
|Mike Mazurki (1907-90). American actor who appeared in over one hundred movies, and acquired fame for his roles in such movies as Some Like It Hot (1959) and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He also became a professional athlete in three sports, primarily wrestling but also American football and basketball. He was born Mykhailo Mazurkevych in Ternopil.|
|George Montgomery (1916-2000). American actor, painter, sculptor, furniture craftsman, and stuntman. Best known as an actor in westerns in film and television. George Montgomery Letz was the youngest of fifteen children born to Ukrainian immigrant parents and grew up on a sprawling ranch in Montana where he honed real-life cowboy skills.|
|Jack Palance (1919-2006). American actor who during half a century of film and television appearances was nominated for three Academy Awards, all as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for his work in Sudden Fear and Shane, and won in 1991 for his role in City Slickers. Born Volodymyr Palahniuk in Pennsylvania to Ukrainian immigrants, his father is a native of Ivane Zolote Ternopil oblast and his mother is from the Lviv region.|
|George Stroumboulopoulos (b. 1972). CBC Canadian talk show host. Stroumboulopoulous, born in Ontario to a Ukrainian Canadian mother and a Greek father from Egypt, is the host and co-executive producer of Canada’s primetime talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. After a career in Canadian talk radio and television music shows, he worked for ABC and CNN in the United States and then returned to become one of the most trusted and respected broadcasters in Canada. He has also developed a strong international following on his YouTube channel.
Photo credit: Mark Dunne
|Bohdan Stupka (1941-2012). Leading Ukrainian actor and the minister of culture of Ukraine. Stupka was especially praised for his rendition of Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye character in the play, Tevye-tevel, staged by the Ivan Franko National Academic Theatre of Drama in Kyiv, and premiered in 1989. The play enjoyed many sold-out seasons, and celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2009. It traveled widely in Europe and America, and Bohdan Stupka received a number of awards for it. Stupka was born in Kulykiv in Lviv oblast.
Photo credit: Oleg Pavlyuchenkov
|Alex Trebek (b. 1940). Television personality and host of the syndicated information quiz show Jeopardy! Born in Sudbury, Ontario of a Ukrainian Canadian father and a French Canadian mother, Trebek built a career in Canadian television and radio before moving to the United States to work on game shows. He broke the world record for longevity as host of television’s most popular quiz show and won two Emmy Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Photo credit: marabuchi