Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jewish Stars: Madeline Kahn

So here's my announcement. Due to Tzvi and my having to take on double duty, and due to my insanely busy schedule nowadays, I'm going to have to cut back on the long, detailed, full-cartoon blog posts. I know, I know. Half of you are clicking the "x" button on this blog already. But bear with me. 

Instead, I will be alternating between my full-length, drawings-included articles, and shorter pieces I have decided to title Jewish Stars. Quite simply, this is where I talk a little bit about someone, be it an author, an artist, an actor, a scientist, who I think is awesome for one reason or another, who also happens to be Jewish. The person can be contemporary or historical. One thing I will guarantee is that it will not be someone every single reader knows about already. No Rambam, Golda Meir, Woody Allen, or Albert Einstein. Hey, they might be super famous. But if I think I've read tons about them in every book or website known to man, I won't be covering them here. So let's get started with one of my very favorite actresses (yes, I'm starting with an actress and not an author or artist. Atypical for me, but whatev). 

Madeline Kahn (1942-1999)

If you've ever seen a Mel Brooks movie, you've probably seen Madeline Kahn. Super (multi)talented and gorgeous to boot, Ms. Kahn managed to steal every scene she appeared in as Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles and Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein. 

The source of my personal admiration for Ms. Kahn is twofold. First, this was a woman who shattered two insulting stereotypes. The first, that Jews aren't good-looking or pretty, and the second, that women can't be funny. Please. Have you seen this woman act? (Heads up, some foul language/crude humor in this vid. Don't watch it with your kids.)

I'm sure most of you have seen Blazing Saddles and are therefore already familiar with that clip. But if you weren't, let me just let you know that this performance not only landed Ms. Kahn an Oscar nomination, but also hid one of her most incredible talents. You'd never know it from "I'm Tired," but she was an operatic singer. 

And that brings me to the second source of my admiration for Madeline Kahn: I grew up singing along with her. She once guest-starred on Sesame Street, where she sang an adorable number with my all-time favorite monster in the world, Grover. It was and remains one of my favorite Sesame Street songs ever. Let me tell you. The woman had pipes. 

So yeah, she was pretty, funny, super-talented, and Jewish. I'd recommend giving her movies a look. And just because it's hysterical, allow me to present one more example of Madeline Kahn being awesome, with fellow awesome Jewish comedienne Gilda Radner. 

My Top Five Madeline Kahn Performances (in no particular order):

1) Young Frankenstein (1974)
2) Blazing Saddles (1974)
3) What's Up, Doc? (1972)
4) Clue (1985)
5) The Muppet Movie (1979) (yes, it was a cameo. But it was an awesome cameo!)

and a bonus from my childhood:

6) A Bug's Life (1998)

* Let me know what you think of this column as an idea. If you don't like it as much as the cartoons, I'm sorry. Until we get another writer or my schedule frees up, I've got to space them out a bit. 

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