Since the Academy Awards just announced the 2016 Oscar nominations today, and the actual ceremony is only about a month away on February 28, 2016, we started to think about all the great Jewish actresses who have won Oscars in the past. And since we pretty much like to kvell whenever possible, we rounded up a list of famous Jewish ladies who stole the show, literally and figuratively.
Here’s a trip down memory lane:
1. Marlee Matlin for Best Actress, “Children of a Lesser God,” 1987
She even became the first hearing-impaired actress in history to win an Academy Award. Marlee Matlin comes from a Jewish family of Russian descent. At her bat mitzvah, she was able to read from the Torah by learning Hebrew phonetically.
2. Gweyneth Paltrow for Best Actress, “Shakespeare in Love,” 1999
Gwyneth Paltrow also won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her guest appearance on “Glee.” Paltrow’s father was Jewish, and she’s stated that she was in fact raised with many Jewish traditions. What’s more, she officially announced that she was in the process of converting to Judaism in 2014.
3. Elizabeth Taylor for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” 1967; “Butterfield 8,” 1961
Besides winning two Oscars, Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award four years in a row. And, you know, she was one of the best dressed women in Hollywood/the entire world for her entire life, basically. Many people don’t realize that Taylor converted to Judaism at 27, and was even barred from entering Egypt to complete the filming of “Cleopatra” for being Jewish.
4. Barbra Streisand for Best Actress, “Funny Girl,” 1969
Barbra Streisand also played Fanny in the Broadway production of “Funny Girl,” which she was nominated for a Tony. As a child, she attended the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva in Brooklyn.
5. Shelley Winters for “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959); “A Patch of Blue” (1965)
Shirley Schrift (she used her mother’s maiden name in Hollywood) was pretty cool: She worked as a model, performed on the Borscht Belt, shared a room with Marilyn Monroe (who converted to Judaism), and even got her stage name from poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
6. Edith Head for Costume Design for “The Heiress” (1949); “Samson and Delilah” (1949); “All About Eve” (1950); “A Place in the Sun” (1951); “Roman Holiday” (1953); “Sabrina” (1954); “The Facts of Life” (1960); “The Sting” (1973)
Edith Head was pretty incredible–she designed costumes for over 400 movies, and won eight of the 35 Academy Award nominations she received. She was notorious for dressing Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday,” in an overly formal ball gown when her character, Princess Ann, felt restricted. Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” was based off her.
7. Jewish singer Idina Menzel sang “Let it Go,” the theme song for the film “Frozen,” which won the Oscar for Best Animated Film (2014).
Menzel’s parents immigrated to America from Eastern Europe, and she grew up in Queens. While she never had a bat mitzvah herself, she performed as a bar/bat mitzvah and wedding singer while attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
8. Bette Midler sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” after the In Memorium part of 2014 Oscars
Bettle Midler needs no introduction. She’s done it all: won 12 Grammys, eight Golden Globes, two Academy Awards, five Emmys, and one Tony Award. My personal favorite of hers: “Hocus Pocus.”
9. Natalie Portman for Best Actress for “Black Swan,” 2011
She’s received many awards, including a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a BFCA. She was born in Israel, and has been quoted as saying that she would like to raise her children Jewish. As of 2014, her husband has been in the process of converting to Judaism.