It’s no secret that Jews and Jewish-themed movies have heavily influenced American filmmaking. This year, stalwarts such as Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg have been nominated for Academy Awards, as were the Israeli film “Footnote” and the Polish Holocaust movie “In Darkness.”
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In addition to celebrated directors, actors and screenwriters, there are plenty of artists in less recognized roles who have picked up their own Oscar statuettes. In this selection, we list our picks for the best Jewish Oscar winners of all time, from actors to art directors, sound editors to costume designers. To add to or argue with our selections, join the conversation in the comments.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Shelley Winters, “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959); “A Patch of Blue” (1965)
Shirley Schrift worked as a garment industry model, performed on the Borscht Belt, roomed with Marilyn Monroe and took her stage name from poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Initially cast for her sex appeal, she transitioned to serious roles and peaked as an actress when she was in her 40s. Her role as the vindictive prostitute mother in the 1965 film “A Patch of Blue” is unforgettable. See also her pitch-perfect Jewish mother in Paul Mazursky’s “Next Stop, Greenwich Village” (1976).
Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin, “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)
It wasn’t until 2006 that Alan Arkin was honored by the Academy, but the Hollywood veteran made his mark long before then. For his very first role, in Norman Jewison’s “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” (1966), Arkin was nominated for best actor — a fitting turn, considering that Arkin’s father lost his job during the Red Scare — and he was nominated again, for his role as deaf-mute John Singer in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (1968). In “Little Miss Sunshine” Arkin stole the show as Edwin Hoover, a World War II veteran who was kicked out of his retirement home for selling heroin.