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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Television For And About Jews. Part Two.

The last article was a prelude to the fact that I found a network on my cable system called The Jewish Life Network, or JLN.
I'm very glad that it is there.
It has quite a few shows that I hadn't seen in many years.
The Soupy Sales Sales Show.
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show.
The Jack Benny Show.
The Original Goldbergs, with Gertrude Berg.
There is also a Jackie Mason Show, that he did in 2005, that was essentially a topical news show.
What does this all add up to?
For one, a whole lot of entertainment.
For another, a whole lot of pandering.
However widely it was known, all of the above names were and/or are Jewish.
Dinah, while she was busy advertising Chevrolets with the big tail fins, never advertised that she was Jewish.
But among the tribe, word leaked out, and I think that's why we are seeing grainy black-and-white kinescopes of her fifties/early sixties variety hour, which was originally shown in color.
Even so, you can tell that it was very well done.
And she could really sing in those days.
Not like when she had her afternoon talk show, when she kept making fried chicken and attempted to sing.
Her pipes were really shot by then.
She should have stuck to frying the chicken.
Yes, Soupy Sales was Jewish.
His real name was Milton Supman.
A lot of Jews know this, and that's probably why he appears twice a day on the JLN.
I have really loved watching Soupy recently, particularly the old black-and-white shows he did locally in New York in the mid-sixties.
The original Goldbergs, with it's sappy sentimentality, and predictable plots, usually involving misunderstandings, and jumping to the wrong conclusions, a la "Three's Company", is salvaged by superior dialogue writing.
Gertrude Berg, the muscle of the writing, really knew how to turn a phrase, usually a heavily accented Jewish one.
She was very much into what Garry Marshall referred to as "verbal spins".
Something I heavily engaged in when I worked for him.
"The Jackie Mason Show" was done in 2005, so it ain't exactly topical anymore.
And it was done when I still thought he was funny.
Hindsight has pretty much changed that.
I don't know how politically correct it would be today for Jack Benny, an obvious Jew, to do a character who was obviously so cheap.
But the JLN doesn't seem to mind.
And neither do I.
His show was wonderful.
Also at the risk of political incorrectness, let me state that the JLN embodies two of the worst qualities of my people: We are notorious braggarts and notorious beggars.
And the JLN thrives in both elements.
The braggadocio involves not only an air of superiority over other peoples, but also superiority amongst each other.
The JLN has Jewish celebrities, such as Jason Alexander, and Lainie Kazan, who I think is going on her fourth face-lift, making on-camera appearances extolling the virtues of this network.
Another is Mayim Bialek, from "Blossom", and "The Big Bang Theory".
The graphics under her picture read "Ph.D. and actress Mayim Bialek"
It's a way of saying to ourselves, and to the occasional Gentile tuning in, ""Not only is she a successful actress, but she's a doctor yet".
One of my father's weirder jokes was he'd ask you "What's a phudnik?
You'd say "I don't know."
He'd say "A nudnik with a Ph.D."
I guess on every level, even among nudniks, there was a pecking order.
As far as begging goes, there is no charity related to Israel that is not ponderously paid attention to during their commercials.
When I was a college age teenager, and my sister was a high school age teenager, living in an apartment building in Flushing, Queens, we would often see this ancient Hassidic Jew, with the long black coat, the black hat, and the full beard, right out of Central Casting, roaming the streets of our neighborhood, relentlessly begging for money.
On Jewish holidays, he got brave enough to go around ringing everybody's doorbell.
You'd open the door, he'd have his hand out, and with a pitiful look in his eyes, say ""Money for Yuntiff?"
"Yuntiff" actually meant "Yom Tov", which meant "the holiday".
It didn't matter which holiday.
Passover, Chanukah, Succoth, Simchas Torah, Rosh Hashanah, Tubishvat, Yom Kippur....
He was there outside your door, ready to say "Money for Yuntiff?"
I, having no money to spare, usually handled this by looking through the peephole, seeing it was him, and not opening the door.
Once or twice, getting caught unexpectedly, I opened the door, saw and heard "Money for Yuntiff?", and said "Wait right here."
And I went to get my sister. I said "Les, there's someone here to see you."
She then came to the door, and embarrassedly turned him away.
This worked twice.
I don't think she's ever forgiven me.
The Yuntiff guy then broadened his horizons.
He started working purely American holidays as well.
Memorial Day, Fourth of July (boy, did he look sweaty in that coat.), Labor Day....
Now, here it is, Veteran's Day, and I'm looking at the commercials on the JLN.
And all I can think of is "Money for Yuntiff?"


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. Before Soupy hit LA and then New York City, he did his thing with White Fang and Black Tooth; Pookie and Hippy, at WXYZ-TV in Detroit. In 1960 there wasn't a kid in southeast Michigan who didn't watch his show faithfully, featuring shaving cream pies, all sorts of zany stunts, and "Words of Wisdom" that provided some useful advice for kids. I had to negotiate with my dad as to whether we'd watch the Today Show, or Breakfast with Soupy, as we ate our own breakfast each morning. Soupy teamed up with an off-camera guy named Clyde Adler who was the puppeteer, and then sometimes came to the door as a funny character. Soupy was a gem. I also enjoyed "The Chevy Show," and never had a clue that the lovely Dinah was Jewish. Great memories.

  2. In 1960, in New York, at noon on Saturdays, the ABC affiliate showed "Lunch With Soupy Sales", which came out of Detroit. It wasn't until many years later, when I met my wife, who grew up in Detroit, that I knew that Soupy was on in Detroit Monday through Saturday. She never got to see him in New York. Between the two of us, we got to see his entire career.
    Clyde Adler reprised his role, adding a lot of on-camera work, in the late seventies revival show.
    In New York in the sixties, a guy named Frank Nastasi took over for Adler. He wasn't as good.

  3. There is a chance you're qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  4. You could be qualified to get a Apple iPhone 7.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."