Michael Diamond was born in New York City, a member of a Jewish family. In the late Seventies, he was a founding member of the band then called The Young Aborigines, in which he was the drummer. In 1981, Adam Yauch (better known as MCA) joined the band, followed in 1983 by Adam Horovitz (better known as Ad-Rock). By this time, Diamond, now performing under the stage name Mike D, was the sole remaining original member of the band, which had renamed itself The Beastie Boys after Yauch joined.
As a member of the Beastie Boys, Diamond has enjoyed creative and commercial success. Their breakthrough hit was 1987’s “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)”, with subsequent hits “So What’cha Want”, “Sabotage” and “Intergalactic”. The band broke up in 2012 after the death of MCA, a.k.a. Adam Yauch.
One of those rare actors to not use a screen name, Harvey Keitel was a US Marine and later a court reporter before he became an actor. He first began to get attention for his roles in some of Martin Scorcese’s early films, such as Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. His career took a downturn after he was replaced by Martin Sheen on the set of Apocalypse Now after only a week of filming, although Keitel remained a prolific supporting actor for years.
It was not until 1992, when he played the role of Mr White in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, that his career really took off again. Throughout the Nineties, Keitel was one of the most well-known and respected actors in Hollywood, having starred or guests in some of the highest profile films of the decade.
The Chanukah Song (Part II) — Adam Sandler
Adam Yauch was born and bred in Brooklyn. His Catholic father and Jewish mother raised him without religion – although he later found Buddhism without their help. He is best known as a founding member of the Beastie Boys, and along with Mike D, one of only two members to have stayed with the band for its entire career.
Yauch was a political activist, especially concerned with the issue of Tibetan freedom, but also a film-maker and a music producer. He died in 2014 from a cancer affecting his parotid gland and lymph nodes. He was 47 years old.
An American actor born in New York City, James Caan is one of those rare actors to use his real name. His acting career started when he was 21, with roles in off-Broadway productions. Within three years, he was getting regular work as a character actor on tv and in the movies, and the size of his roles increased as fame slowly found him.
Throughout the Seventies, he continued to act, and wound up doing some of his best known roles, notably as Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” I and II. He also appeared in such films as “Rollerball”, “A Bridge Too Far” and “Alien Nation”.
Ben Stiller is one of the world’s most well known actors, starring in (among others) Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, the Night at the Museum series and the Madagascar series. Unlike many actors, he’s actually using his real name in his career, not a stage name – his parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne O’Meara, are also actors, and Stillers junior and senior have frequently appeared together on screen.
Stiller is the acknowledged leader of the “Frat Pack” group of actors, and career wise, is pretty much at the top of his game as a writer, director and actor right now.
Born Winona Laura Horowitz, the actress now known as Winona Ryder is best known for her appearances in such films as “Heathers”, “Alien Ressurrection”, “Reality Bites” and “Girl, Interrupted”, among many others.
She is also well known for dating Johnny Deep in the early Nineties (he had a tattoo reading “Winona Forever” on his arm; after they broke up, it was modified to read “Wino Forever”), and for getting arrested for shoplifting in 2001.
Curly Howard was the youngest of the three Howard brothers. His real name was Jerome Lester Horwitz, but it was as Curly that he captured the hearts of America, becoming the best loved of the Three Stooges. His performance was notable for its physicality, even in the days of vaudeville, when comedy was more physical in general – one of his recurring set pieces was breaking things over his head.
Curly, more than the other Stooges, was also famous for his catchphrases, suck as his trademark ‘nyuk nyuk nyuk’ laugh or his exaggerated Brooklyn accent on words like certainly (‘soitenly’) and circumstance (‘soicumstance’). Unfortunately, his health was never good, and he died aged only 48 in January of 1952.
Hollywood success continued to elude Adam Sandler with “Happy Gilmore”. The film was commercially successful, but not the breakthrough he had hoped for (that would come two years later with “The Wedding Singer”). Critics were divided over the film, and although it did great business in the USA, it was a flop in international markets.
The tells the story of “Happy” Gilmore, a former ice hockey player who finds a new career in professional golf. Its humour is in Sandler’s signature man-child style, and its plot is as predictable as that of any other Hollywood sports movie.
Born in Chicago, Harrison Ford would rise from humble beginnings to become one of the best known and highest grossing movie stars of his era. He is best known for his roles as Han Solo in the Star Wars film series and Indiana Jones in the four films of that series. To a certain generation of filmgoer, he defined rugged manliness in the way that Eastwood or Wayne had before him.
Ford’s family has a highly mixed background – his paternal grandfather was Irish, his paternal grandmother German, and his maternal grandparents Jews from Belarus. When asked about the effect this had on his life, Ford jokingly replied “As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.”
Born Courtney Michelle Harrison in San Francisco, Love is one of the most divisive musical figures of the 1990s. Both in her own right as the lead singer and songwriter of Hole, and also as the wife (and later widow) of Kurt Cobain, Love’s outspoken nature and brash behaviour has made her controversial.
In reality, of course, her attitudes, words and actions are no worse than any of her male contemporaries. They’ve all said and done stupid things. But they’re men.
Also, she never went to school in Olympia.
“Million Dollar Legs” was not a subtle film. Its poster showed only Grable (and her expensive lower appendages), and its 65 minute running time featured few scenes in which she wore anything other than hot pants. Grable appeared in the film with her husband, Jackie Coogan, but the experience was not a good one, and the two divorced later that year after the film flopped upon its July 14 release.
Grable actually announced her retirement from show business at that point, but was wooed back at a bigger studio and wound up becoming a greater star than ever before. Coogan went on to play Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family”.
Born Moses Harry Horwitz, Moe Howard and his brother, Shemp Howard, were two of the original Three Stooges, one of the most successful acts of the vaudeville era, and also one of the few to make the jump to cinema. Moe would come to be seen as the leader of the Stooges over the years, being the longest standing member of the lineup and frequently playing that role in their appearances.
Moe was one of the only two members of the Stooges to be in every lineup (Harry was the other, and a total of four other actors filled the third slot at various points). He was also the longest lived of the original Stooges, surviving until 1975.
One of THE pin-up girls of the Nineties, Yasmine Amanda Bleeth is a native New Yorker, born on June 14, 1968 (the day before fellow pin up girl Courteney Cox). Bleeth is best known for the roles of Caroline Holden in “Baywatch” and Caitlin Cross in “Nash Bridges”. It was the former that made her a star – although that probably had more to do with how good she looked in a swimsuit than her acting talent (although she is a skilled actress, that’s not the element of her person “Baywatch” really spotlighted).
Unfortunately for Bleeth, she has suffered repeated bouts of addiction, concluding in a cocaine addiction in 2003 that effectively ended her career in showbiz.