Top ten non-Jews often misidentified as Jews

Springsteen, one of the top ten non-Jews often misidentified as Jews

Springstein? No, Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen / Charlie Chaplin / Alan Alda / Milton Hershey / Ringo Starr / Rupert Murdoch / Ethel Merman / Mike Myers / “Weird Al” Yankovic / Joy Behar


Bruce Springsteen
Can you hear us, the many rock fans who assume that he’s Jewish? That’s Springsteen—“stepping stone” in old Dutch—not Springstein. Adding to confusion is Springsteen’s famous nickname, “The Boss,” which he earned in 1960s New Jersey because he was often in charge of distributing payment from gigs to his bandmates.

Charlie Chaplin
The Nazis included this international superstar of the silent film era in their 1930s propaganda compendium, Juden Sehen Dich An (The Jews Are Watching You). Plus Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator, indicted fascism and underscored Jewish suffering at a time when the United States was still neutral in World War II. Despite his famous role as a Jewish barber, Chaplin wasn’t Jewish. But he was proud of his heritage in another persecuted group: the Roma, or Gypsies.

Alan Alda
His name sounds Jewy, he played a brilliant surgeon, he’s an ardent feminist and liberal, and he’s married to a Jew. No wonder people mistake him for one of the tribe. But the actor who starred as Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the long-running television series M*A*S*H was raised Catholic. His father, the actor Robert Alda, known for his role as George Gershwin in Rhapsody in Blue, was born Alfonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D’Abruzzo.

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Milton Hershey
Why wouldn’t a self-made man with a name like Milton be Jewish? The founder of the chocolate empire who transformed Hershey, Pennsylvania, into the definitive company town and created America’s love affair with milk chocolate was originally included in the 2002 documentary Great Jewish Achievers. But as a Mennonite, Hershey didn’t make the final cut.

Ringo Starr
Is it the Liverpool accent? Birth name Richard Starkey? Jewish manager Brian Epstein? When the four mop tops arrived in Montreal on the morning of September 8, 1964, they learned from the local press that anti-Semites had made death threats against Ringo. “Some people decided to make an example of me as an English Jew,” recounted the drummer in The Beatles Anthology. The show went on with extra security, including a plainclothes cop hiding behind a drum riser. It was “one of the few times I was really worried,” said Starr. “The one major fault is,” he added, “I’m not Jewish.”

Rupert Murdoch
It’s true, not all media moguls are Jewish! Credited and blamed for swaying elections from Canberra to London to Washington, DC, Murdoch gave Americans the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel and gobbled up the social-networking site MySpace. “Over the years, some of my wildest critics seem to have assumed I am Jewish. At the same time, some of my closest friends wish I were. So let me set the record straight: I live in New York. I have a wife who craves Chinese food. And people I trust tell me I practically invented the word ‘chutzpah,’” the non-Jewish Murdoch recently told the American Jewish Committee. We rest our case.

Ethel Merman
Born Ethel Agnes Zimmermann in New York, New York, and still not Jewish! In 1930, the 22-year-old brunette of German Lutheran stock became an overnight sensation belting out “I Got Rhythm” in George and Ira Gershwin’s musical Girl Crazy. She never got stage fright, was quick with a quip— “ H o lly w o o d shoots too many movies and not enough blondes”—loved costume jewelry and lied shamelessly about her age. She’s got rhythm, she also had chutzpah, who could ask for anything more?

Mike Myers
As Linda Richman, host of Saturday Night Live’s “Coffee Talk” Myers wore his make-up as thick as his stereotypical New York Jewish accent. He worshipped Barbra Streisand and got all verklempt when discussing her. And as the voice of Shrek (Yiddish for “scared”), the Canadian-born, Protestant-raised Myers made a new generation of children love a kinder, gentler version of the ultimate outsider. Then again, he also played Austin Powers—and Dr. Evil.

“Weird Al” Yankovic
He sounds like a Jew and looks like one, too. The eccentric, church-going musical parodist of Serbian ancestry got his big break with My Bologna, a rendering of The Knacks’ (yes, they’re Jewish) 1979 hit My Sharona. And then there are the Jewish musical references, like those in Pretty Fly for A Rabbi, which includes the lyrics: “So how’s by you? So how’s by you? Have you seen this Jew? Reads the Torah, does his own accounting, too.” And all together now: “How ya doin’, Bernie? Oy vey, oy vey! And all the goyim say I’m pretty fly (for a rabbi).” Oy vey, indeed.

Joy Behar
She has shared the TV couch with Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg and Roseanne Barr, so no wonder people think the woman born Josephina Victoria Occhiuto is Jewish. The fiery liberal comedian and co-host of The View is all New York and all Jewish humor all the time. One of her jokes goes: “A couple of years ago, I got a call: ‘Happy Hanukkah.’ And I said, ‘Ma, I’m not Jewish!”’ She came by her Sephardic surname by marrying into the clan (and then divorcing out of it).

39 thoughts on “Top ten non-Jews often misidentified as Jews

  1. Harold Hecuba says:

    I am fairly certain, as a Beatles fan since the age of 12, that Ringo is half-Jewish. It was not uncommon for celebrities to deny or downplay Jewish heritage just a few decades ago. You see it with Howard Stern and Andrew Dice Clay having falsely claimed to be half-Italian, rather than fully Jewish, in the past. With someone like Seth Rogen, the situation is quite the opposite. He plays UP his heritage in the belief that it will benefit his career.

    1. Agnieszka says:

      Ringo almost looks like Topol, welll…

    2. Matthew/Boston says:

      I sure as hell hope not!

      That would taint my image of the Beatles no matter how much I might try not to think about it. I grew-up with the Beatles. I consider them to be the best thing that ever happened to music. In fact, I’m listening to Revolver right now!

      1. sharon says:

        What a disgusting anti semitic comment! Are you Christian? You folliw Jewish laws, your messiah was most definately a Jew and you pray to the God of Israel. You would love to be Jewish!! You are just jealous…and of very low intellect

        1. Kevin says:

          Jews are not of Shem. Jesus was a Judean, not a Jew. Jews are edomites.

          1. paul says:

            Sorry Kevin. Edomites became part of the Israelites, formerly Hebrews, who are the modern day Jews. The Judean of Jesus was because he was Jewish (Israelites) living in Jude’s, the area the tribe of Judah inherited upon entering Canaan after 40 years in the wilderness.

        2. Jew Ish says:

          so many annoying comments. time to up our game, People.

      2. Ray says:

        We are all Jewish, I hate to telly you. Our hero Jesus, is Jewish. He is our father that spawned a Jewish faith but they somehow didn’t believe him. In the beginning, it was Jews that believed in Christ.

        1. You have no idea what you are saying. Go back to first grade at Hebrew school and then come back. We can’t have ppl supporting us with made up stupidity.

      3. Donald Saigh says:

        It’s a shame that you consider the Beatles to be the greatest contributors to popular music. Do yourself a favor and explore the works of the great Jewish composers such as Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers, Kern, Arlen, Lowe, etc. They wrote the greatest songs of the 20th century, not the Beatles.

      4. Ben says:

        Ha ha ha

        1. Arty Simon says:

          AsAs Stevie Wonder said in his song “ Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away”; when asked about God he says, “Where is your God, He lives inside of me, and I say it’s taking him so long (to return) ‘cause we’ve got so far to come”.
          We’re all Human. You’d see how fast no would care whether someone’s Jewish or Christian of Muslim or Buddist or Hindu when the Aliens land or better yet when God discards us as useless rejects of a second failed creation like the dinosaurs.
          Would Ringo or Springsteen’s enormous talent and ability be any difference no mstter their religion or lack of it.
          All are punished.

    3. Pamela says:

      There is no such thing as half Jewish. You either are or you are not Jewish. According to halachah (Jewish law), if the maternal line is Jewish, then you are Jewish.

      1. Evette says:

        Jew-ish people state it is the mother’s bloodline that determines if you are a Jew or not. Israelites go by what the Bible says, that if your father is an Israelite, then you are an Israelite as well. Remember the 12 tribes of Israel? All of them were men as the head of their tribe. Not sure why the other people are stating that the mother is the focal point of the Israelite race.

  2. Bee says:

    Ringo Starr is not Jewish at all.

    For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

  3. Marianne says:

    Matthew from Boston was offensive but that does not give Sharon the right to assume he is Christian . I am a Catholic and I have
    Great respect for the hard working Jewish Community here in the UK and their tough background.

    Ringo Starr has confirmed he does not have Jewish heritage and that should be the end of it..

    I imagine there are millions of Jewish celebrities all over the world so I woold’nt worry too much a out it and Michael Winner is not
    Jewish either, He went to a small Jewish school where they took in non Jewish children. It was on his doorstep and they were kind
    Enough to take him in.

    I have made a few mistakes so please forgive me. My husband’s first cousin Fergus met a lovely Jewish woman called Sheila in New York
    And they are now retired in Rostrevor, Co Down . They are very happily married and we all love her dearly.

  4. Kenny says:

    Bruce Springsteen is a bona fide jew, whom denies not being one.

  5. Terry Traditional Trim Carpentry says:

    I’m an independent carpenter and I work in a predominantly Jewish community in which I enjoy the people and my customers very much. There happens to be a poster on one of my customers living room walls which has photos of, Bruce Springsteen,
    Albert Einstein, Henry Winkler, Bob Dylan, and supprisingly Jesus Christ. The top of the poster says
    “Jews Rock” I was raised Catholic myself and by no means find this offensive

    1. Sam Curtis Bristol says:

      I’ve seen posters of Springsteen in Jewish homes too. I’m sure he is Jewish or maybe converted because they all seem to think he’s a Jew fer sure.

  6. Terry says:

    This is Terry again but to add to the poster was also
    William Shatner, Ringo Starr, but there were I believe (9) nine total photos and for the life of me I cannot remember the last two huh? Maybe someone else knows ? Thank you I’ve enjoyed this site, Jews do Rock too tho people and to all my fellow Christians temember that the Ten Commandments that we are all to follow and abide to were given to Moses a Jew, by the God of Jews, and our own Savior” was a Jew, let us all co-exsisti,
    and one more thing folks “Rock On”

    1. lori grace says:

      Terry, I admire and agree with everything you said. Beautifully written and extremely thoughtful. Thanks for being the voice of love and reason. “ROCK ON”

  7. John Foulks says:

    That’s only six…where are the other four?

  8. Robin Janz-Buhr says:

    I hope you’re wrong on Milton. I’m a descendant of Hershey on my maternal grandfather’s side. Correct on the Mennonite part. The family was originally from Switzerland and their name originally Hirsch, which I’ve read is a Jewish surname. I live in Canada and I know of a few Mennonite families that have a Jewish connection. They were both a persecuted people often surviving off the land very close to one another. They both know how to work the land and be successful. I was hoping I had some Jewish in me. I’ll take one of those DNA test kits and get back to you.

  9. Susan says:

    Christianity did not begin as a religion until 300 years after Jesus died

    Jesus was born in the Spring, not on December 25th

    He could not have been buried on a Saturday (to rise on Sunday) as he was a Jew , and Jews do not bury their dead on the Sabbath. Which is Saturday in Judaism

    The last supper was supposedly a Passover dinner….if that were true, why is their bread on the table and not matzah

    The Catholic Church turned Mary Magdaline into a proestitue for their own purposes. She was actual his wife , and the V shaped chalice is the symbol for a woman’s womb

    Note also that Jesus is leaning to the right in Divinci’s Last Supper, and the figure to his right is leaning toward the left and is definitely female. Together they form the V shape

    1. Evette says:

      Mary Magdalene was NOT Christ’s wife. In John 19:26, when He told the disciple that he loved that Mary, His mother, is now the disciple’s mother,he wanted the disciple to take care of Mary. If Mary Magdalene was Christ’s wife, wouldn’t he had asked the same disciple to take care of her also? And any possible children that she was possibly pregnant with? So no, Christ was not sent here to marry a woman. He was sent here to save His people from sin. Period.

  10. Titan says:

    Yes, Charlie Chaplin had Jewish roots. Please note that gypsies originated when Jews went through India, and in a vast migration due to inland wars, left India. The intermarriage of these two wondering groups trying to escape formed the gypsy tribes. Soon, it became a very tight membership group; they only married other gypsies, or sometimes illigally approprieted European babies.Therefore, all gypsies are in part Jewish and very proud of it. I worked with Polish, Russian and Romanian gypsies for several years and knew their kings and tribes.

  11. Johnston says:

    Another person often thought to be Jewish is folksinger/pop singer Melanie Safka, know by Melanie- (Candles in the Rain, Brand New Key, Beauriful People) Raised as a Catholic but now practices Eastern practices- meditation etc

  12. Steve says:

    The Jewish identity question is a VERY complicated one. I knew a young man whose father was Roman Catholic and his mother was Jewish. The father died before he was born but he was baptized a Catholic and did the whole communion confirmation thing but was also Bar Mitzva’d. He swore that he wasn’t a Jew all his miserably confused life. I believe that honesty is the best policy but hey, you never know.

  13. HA says:

    It is a shame that there is such a stigma around Jewish identity that some deny their heritage. You are who you are and should be okay with that no matter what as long as you respect all people and religions.

    1. sruli says:

      I am not jewish but i look at what the percentages of the famous people out there who are jewish which is about 26% comparing with the amount of jews there are in the world which is about 0.02%! I thnk thats amazing

    2. Tibor Halmay says:

      An interesting discussion but now out of date. Judaism is both a religion and a culture. People who consider themselves to be Jewish who grew up and live in different cultures in different parts of the world might not be able to relate to each other and the same would apply to Christians in different cultures. All this is of little consequence in a world where some men now view themselves as women and women consider themselves to be men. Sammy Davis Jr., converted to Judaism and on a golf course was once asked, “What’s your handicap?” Sammy said, “I’m black and Jewish.”

  14. Ken says:

    Many people (since the MASH days & especially in his appearance in The Aviator) have observed that Alan Alda sounds (phrasing, tone, cadence, delivery especially) like he grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in NYC. Only point it out because it’s the first thing people allude – his voice, joke delivery – as Jewish, yet it is the one thing Not mentioned in his paragraph

  15. Harber says:

    A good number of Americans thought the Roosevelts were Jewish as well. You’d think some people would realize that nouns such as “Jewish” and “liberal” aren’t supposed to be slurs, but simply very narrow descriptives. One is a person’s religion or ethnicity and the other is political viewpoint. Liberal used to primarily refer to quantity: “Use a liberal amount of baking soda and vinegar while scrubbing a burnt pan.” Some of us just don’t exercise our minds enough, I suppose.

  16. Sebastian Wheetabix says:

    Many of the comments here are childish and silly. I’m from East-End Montreal, where there are ZERO Jews, and discovered that Jews living in N.D.G, C.D.N., Snowden, Hampstead and other locations in the West End were no different than anybody else and often much more interesting.

    May the Schwartz be with you!

  17. Anonymike says:

    One person I long thought was Jewish who evidently was not was once-NBA player Bob Kauffman, who played from 1968 through the 1974-75 season. He was not a widely-known player but he had a decent career though short career. The issue was compounded by the fact that he came from the New York area. He apparently was of Germanic descent, however.

  18. wybe rood says:

    self-identification with any group smaller than homo sapiens is a source of many problems. What if you were swapped at birth with the person that you are now so angry at, behind your keyboard. All those isms and religions…they make us so small….we are all one.

  19. Heathen says:

    My only complaint is that non-Jews are called Gentiles. The definition of that word is Heathen. Oh, they will tell you that was long ago. We are still called Gentiles.

    1. shortsleeves says:

      Gentile does not mean “heathen”. It means citizen of the world

  20. Susan says:

    The Republicans, led by Donald Trump have incited the Hatred that seems to be in us all ,lets come together and reject their disgusting and usually untrue stories and hateful words!!! Fox News are you listening to Sane and Proud Americans,Stop Your Lies before we Kill eachother with the automatic weapons that you love so much.

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