Your RDA of Irony


In an eulogy for the series “The O.C.”, the lamenting critic referred to the characters of Sandy and Seth Cohen as television’s first Jewish sex symbols. Of course, I was hurt that the critic didn’t consider the magnetic eroticism of my appearances on Jeopardy in 1987. Despite the fact that I lived in Chicago, I received propositions from several women in New York. I was a veritable pin-up with the Hadassah of Long Island.

Yet, even I wouldn’t claim to be television’s “first” Jewish sex symbol. William Shatner certainly thinks he was–and still is. But James Kirk wasn’t supposed to be Jewish. (We all know that the Vulcans actually were, however.) Hal Linden is a nice looking fellow–and his Barney Miller was no Aryan–but perhaps he was not overtly sensuous. Despite his charm and wit, Ross Martin never got the girl on The Wild, Wild West. (The annoying pygmy Robert Conrad always did!) Still, we can imagine that there was one Jewish sex symbol in the Sixties: Alan Brady. Who knows what happened on his casting couch; but Laura Petrie never could look him in the eyes!

And the Jewish sex symbol goes back to the very beginnings of television. Sid Caesar was a hunk. Who could blame Imogene Coca for always tearing off his shirt! And the Tribe could also claim the best looking woman of early television–at least when Milton Berle was in drag.

So, if Sandy and Seth Cohen seem hot, it is only because Sid Caesar, Ross Martin and I were the kindling.

  1. Leah says:

    Dinah Shore? Rod Serling? Efrem Zimbalist? Michael Landon? Lorne Greene? (Which reminds me– how come the only people I’ve ever heard of named “Lorne” are Jewish?)

    I notice you fail to mention Arnold Stang and Pinky Lee.

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