JUF's Jewish Celebrities

Renee Taylor

Renee Taylor

Like Doris Roberts and some other actors, Renee (say: ren-AY) was around for a long time before she became famous. Her breakthrough role was as Fran Drescher’s mom on The Nanny. But, like we said, Renee has been around a lot longer than that, and has used her Nanny fame to continue to get great roles a decade later. In Hollywood, you gotta hustle, no matter how old you are!

Her new rom-com is called Should've Been Romeo, and it's chock-full of stars. Yes, full of stars, all the way up to the, um, chock (whatever that is! The rim, maybe?): Ed AsnerCarol KaneMichael RapaportKelly Osbourne... just to name the Jewish ones!

You might know Renee as a voice, in the sequels Dr. Dolittle 2 with Kevin Pollak (she was a tortoise) and Ice Age: The Meltdown with Josh Peck  (she was Mrs. Start). She’s also been in episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Everwood. She was also in two great movies you’ll like about the relationships between kids and gorwn-ups: Opposite Day with Pauly Shore (in which the kid and adults “become” each other), and The Rainbow Tribe (in which a camp counselor is too much like a kid). And she was in the remake of the classic Alfie.

Next, she’s in two more movies, Boston Girls and Driving Me Crazy. That second one looks cute. It’s about a 40-year-old guy driving from New York to California… for a date!

Before we go into what earlier TV shows Renee was in, we want to mention two of her movies. One was the original version of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Yes, it was a musical and then they made a movie of the musical. But first, it was a non-musical movie that made fun of Adolf Hitler, and Renee played Eva Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend (yes, Hitler had a girlfriend. Weird, hunh?). Her other great movie was A New Leaf, directed by and starring Elaine May, about a rich guy (Walter Matthau, see this Bonus) who will lose all his money unless he gets married... immediately!

Like we said, Renee was around for a while before she broke through on The Nanny. She was is two Superman-related shows, one called simply Superman, and the other about his relationship, as Clark Kent, with Lois Lane. That was called Lois and Clark (instead of Lewis and Clark, the explorers!) and after Smallville finally goes off the air, you can watch it on DVD to see the next part of the Superman story.

Some of the shows Renee has been in include classics and innovative shows like Dream On (about a guy who daydreams in classic TV images) with Jewish actor Brian Benben, thirtysomething with Jewish actor Ken Olin, St. Elsewhere, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and one of the very first lawyer shows, The Defenders. And she was in a bunch of shows that get the “Oh, I remember that one!” reaction, like Caroline in the City, Empty Nest, The Love Boat, and Matt Houston. (Hey, some of us watched a lot of TV when we were kids— there were no video games or websites yet!) Lately, she's been on Victorious, Sonny With a Chance, and the toon Bob's Burgers.

In fact, Renee’s first TV role was way back in 1958! (While there had been TV broadcasts as early as 1928, “television” as we know it— with commericals and all— came in around 1941.)

But Renee does more than act. She wrote and directed some movies! One that she wrote, directed and starred in was called It Had to Be You. Fran Drescher and Tony Randall (see this Bonus) were in that rom-com, too. She did the same three things for the TV movie Bedrooms. She wrote and directed Love Is All There Is, with Lainie Kazan and Angelina Jolie! She wrote and starred in Made for Each Other… and then wrote several other movies, made-for-TV movies, specials, and series, all about romance. One was the Broadway hit Lovers and Other Strangers, and Renee was nominated for an Oscar for writing the film version!

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