Shayna Punim Alert
The very popular website Askmen.com is out with their annual list of the “world’s 99 most desirable women” and Jewish “lookers” grabbed about 10% of the spots. The number preceding the woman’s name is her list ranking; the number following is her age: (97) businesswoman IVANKA TRUMP, 29. Trump, a convert to Judaism, recently announced that she and her husband, JARED KUSHNER, are expecting their first child; (91) LEA MICHELLE, 24, the star of TV’s “Glee”; (83) actress RACHEL BILSON, 29; (81) actress and “Glee” co-star DIANNA AGRON, 24; (55) actress RASHIDA JONES, 34; (19) Israel model BAR REFAELI, 25. She became famous worldwide when she graced the cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue; (12) actress EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI, 33. Chriqui was #1 last year on the Askmen list; (11) actress NATALIE PORTMAN, 29; (7) actress SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 26; and (2) actress MILA KUNIS, 27. Kunis’ high ranking this year is a reflection of her successful move into feature films, playing sexy characters in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Black Swan.” (Bilson and Michele are the daughters of a Jewish father/non-Jewish mother. Jones and Johansson are the daughters of Jewish mothers/non-Jewish fathers. The rest, save Ivana Trump, have two Jewish parents).
On the website, there are bios of all these women—plus photos and a short video about them.
More on Dianna Agron
Agron (Quinn Fabray on “Glee”) is now co-starring in her first major feature film, “I am Number Four.” This sci-fi spectacular opened a couple of weeks ago to mixed-to-bad reviews, but it’s doing strong box office—so you can still catch it in theaters. In real-life, Agron started dating her co-star, Brit actor Alex Pettyfer, soon after their movie began filming. However, they officially broke-up a couple of weeks ago. Agron mostly grew-up in a San Francisco suburb. Dianna’s father, who works for Hyatt hotels, is Jewish by birth. Her mother is a convert to Judaism. Recently, I received a letter from the Religious School coordinator of the Bay Area synagogue that Agron, her parents, and her brother attended—the synagogue where Dianna had her bat mitzvah. The coordinator described both parents as “true mensches” and Dianna as “very sweet and lady-like.”
Opening on Friday, March 4, is the animated film, “Rango.” Johnny Depp stars as the voice of “Rango,” a chameleon who lives in a terrarium. Magically, he finds himself transported from contemporary times to an Old West town called “Dirt,” where he is the sheriff of a town inhabited by desert critters who wear Old West clothes. In other words, various desert animals fill the human roles found in most Western movies. Interestingly enough, the only two Australian Jewish actresses (or actors) with any real degree of worldwide fame have voice roles in the film.
Actress ISLA FISHER, 35, co-stars in “Rango” as the voice of “Beans,” a desert iguana. Fisher, who now mostly lives in Los Angeles and London, grew-up in Australia. She converted to Judaism in 2007 and, in 2010, she wed English Jewish comedian SACHA BARON COHEN, 39. The couple now has two children. Actress CLAUDIA BLACK, 38, has a (smaller) supporting voice role in “Rango” as “Angelique,” a red fox. Black, a native Australian, is best known for her role as “Aeryn Sun” on the sci-fi series, “Farscape,” which aired on the Sci-Fi cable channel from 1999-2003.
The relative lack of famous Australian Jewish actors and actresses comes as a surprise to many (Geoffrey Rush, who won an Oscar playing Australian Jewish pianist DAVID HELFGOTT in “Shine,” is not Jewish). There seems to be two reasons for this. First, it usually takes at least a generation or two until the children or grandchildren of immigrants go into the arts in big numbers. Most Aussie Jews are relatively recent arrivals—either European Jews who came right before, or right after WWII, or South African Jews who have come in a steady stream since the 1970s (although there are exceptions, Sir JOHN MONASH, the Jewish army general who was head of all Australian troops at the end of WWI, was born in Australia in 1865).
Second, Australia is about as culturally/linguistically close to the United States as any country in the world save Canada. Since the ‘60s, the American Jewish cultural “juggernaut” has “flooded” Australia—everything from “Seinfeld” to PHILLIP ROTH. Ironically, “this flood” has made it hard for Australian Jews to find a distinct literary, comedic, or filmmaking voice that would interest the general Australian community.
Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities. For the purpose of this column, Bloom defines someone as Jewish if they have at least one Jewish parent, were not raised in a faith other than Judaism, and do not follow a faith other than Judaism as an adult. (Also counted as Jewish are converts to Judaism). Persons who meet this definition are in bold type, above.