JUF's Jewish Celebrities

Daniel Stern

Daniel Stern

If you look up Daniel Stern online, the article will probably start by saying he was in the first two Home Alone movies. Which is true— standing 6-foot-4, he was the tall crook (Joe Pesci, exactly a foot shorter, was the short one). But Daniel is so much more than the guy who gets whacked in the head with a can of paint!

For one thing, he was the star of his own show, an animation based on the office comic strip Dilbert. (This was way before The Office and Office Space!) For another, he played a very straight-laced guy in the City Slickers movies (the original is one our Movies of the Month!)

And for another another, he was the voice of the narrator on one of our all-time favorite shows, The Wonder Years. In that, Fred Savage plays Kevin, a kid growing up in the 1960s. Daniel plays the voice of Kevin, as an adult, tellling about how he remembers his childhood (kinda like what Bob Saget does for Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother). But this was not the only time Daniel and Fred had worked together. They were both in a movie called Little Monsters, along with Howie Mandel.

Recently, Daniel was in two romances: The Last Time, an office-intrigue romantic triangle, and A Previous Engagement, about a family vacation with a secret. Then he was in the roller-derby movie that was Drew Barrymore's first as a director, Whip It (named after a hit song from the 1980s). Next, he was in the Russell Crowe false-accusation thriller The Next Three Days with Elizabeth Banks and Israel's Moran Atias.

Daniel has worked with some of the major Jewish movie-makers. He was in Woody Allen’s films Hannah and Her Sisters. No, it is not about Hanna Montana and her sisters, Virginia, Carolina, Georgia and Dakota! It's a classic with Carrie Fisher and Julie Kavner. Oh, and Woody's Stardust Memories

Daniel also was in Barry Levinson’s Diner (with Steve Guttenberg and Jewish comic actor Paul Reiser). And Nora Ephron wrote My Blue Heaven (with Rick Moranis and Carol Kane).

Daniel had the comic-relief roles in two of our all-time favorite movies. He was the nerdy sociologist coming to study the American Southwest in the Robert Redford-directed The Milagro Beanfield War. And he was a friend in his first movie, the teen classic Breaking Away, about a guy who becomes a bicycle racer against his father’s objections. That movie won an Oscar for writing, and was nominated for three more!

But Daniel doesn’t only do comedy. He was in the great super-copter movie Blue Thunder… the drama One Trick Pony, starring Jewish music legend Paul Simon… and the Torah story Samson and Delilah, in which he plays the prophet Micah! Plus, Daniel directed the sports movie Rookie of the Year, about the Cubs; Dan Hedaya is in that.

Daniel was born in Maryland. When he was in high school he starred in his school's production of Fiddler on the Roof. And he was paid to be in a Shakespeare play when he was 17! OK, he played a lute in the background, but you gotta start somewhere... He then was in some plays in New York, got his first few movies, and then went back to plays.

But since Diner, it’s pretty much been movie roles.

Someday, Daniel will finally “break away” from small roles and be a the headline star we know he should be.


The pinhead pair in the Home Alone movies, Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, reminds us of another dumb-and-dumber duo (and there have been a lot over the years, from Laurel and Hardy to Wayne and Garth in Wayne's World). But we're thinking of Bill and Ted from the time travel comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Ted was played by the now-very-famous Keanu Reeves. But Bill was played by a Jewish actor named Alex Winter. His other big hit was the teen vampire flick The Lost Boys with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, another duo some call "The Two Coreys." Jami Gertz was in that, too.

Alex also was in the surreal show Saul of the Mole Men, and a movie based on the books about fairies called The Borrowers (but the books were better).

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