The omission was glaring

Monday, January 17th, 2022

On Sept. 25, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures held its opening gala, and influential Academy members were outraged that Hollywood’s origin story was conspicuously absent:

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who was on hand for the gala, was immediately struck by the lapse. “I would’ve hoped that any honest historical assessment of the motion picture industry — its origins, its development, its growth — would include the role that Jews played in building the industry from the ground up,” he says. “As I walked through, I literally turned to the person I was there with and said to him, ‘Where are the Jews?’ The omission was glaring.”

That sentiment is being echoed from Hollywood’s C-suites to the halls of academia. “It’s sort of like building a museum dedicated to Renaissance painting, and ignoring the Italians,” says Hollywood historian and Brandeis University professor Thomas Doherty. “That generation of early moguls — Carl Laemmle, Jack Warner, we know all their names — is a terrific story of upward mobility, living the American dream. It’s one of the great contributions of American Jews to American culture.”

I remember watching a documentary a few years back on the early days of Hollywood, and I was shocked that its message was effectively, the Jews control Hollywood, and that’s great! It was jarring to see such an unacceptable claim presented as true and good.

A few decades before that, it was acknowledged and good for a laugh:

Years ago at the elaborate annual SHARE fund-raising party in Hollywood, Phil Silvers and Polly Bergen did a number called “The Rabbi and the Nun,” in which he and she, suitably costumed, argued over who had the most influence in the industry, the Jews or the Catholics.

The nun offered the likes of Loretta Young, Irene Dunne, Bing Crosby and Leo McCarey, the director. The rabbi countered with Louis B. Mayer, Harry Cohn, Sam Goldwyn, the Brothers Warner, Adolph Zukor, Carl Laemmle and an inexhaustible list of producers, directors and actors.

The contest was so one-sided that at last the nun said in exasperation, “The next thing you know, you’ll be telling me that our Dear Lord Himself was….” Her voice trailed off.


  1. Steven says:

    Perfect example of a “Celebration Parallax” as coined by Michael Anton:

    “The Celebration Parallax may be stated as: ‘the same fact pattern is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it.’ In contemporary speech, on any ‘controversial’ topic—or, to say better, regime priority — the decisive factor is the intent of the speaker. If she can be presumed to be celebrating the phenomenon under discussion, she may shout her approval from the rooftops. If not, he better shut up before someone comes along to shut him up.”

Leave a Reply