There is a photo of my father in my kitchen, it shows him in the early fifties of the last century (or sometime round then), sitting amidst a set of rubbish bins (garbage cans if you're American) reading a script. The bins say "Unity". A friend admired the picture and asked where I had bought it. She said she wanted a picture like that for her house, so I told her that it wasn't bought, it was a picture of my father, Heinz Bernard, who was then the manager of a communist party affiliated theatre in London, called Unity Theatre.
Needless to say she hadn't heard of Unity but when I told her that he had appeared in two legendary Israeli Educational TV series, Neighbours and Here We Are, she immediately knew who he was.
In the late 'Seventies and 'Eighties there was only one TV channel in Israel and each of the two series was shown twice a week. They were so popular that they were shown for seventeen years. Long after Israeli TV broadcast in colour, the two black and white series were still being shown. That was a age before "celebrities" - many of them people who are famous for being famous - but Heinz, (my father), could not walk down the street without being recognized, and sometimes being mobbed by children. Very few knew his name, but the entire country knew who he was. In Neighbours (which was written by my mother), he was "Mr Cohen" and in Here We Are, he was "Dr Sharoni".
Heinz wasn't the only former leftist or top-flight actor in the two series. Peter Frye, who played "Mr Kashdan" in Here We Are, had fought in the Spanish Civil War. Sarah Amman, who played the doll "Susie Surprise", had been a dancer on Broadway, and the director, Maxine Ellis, came from Beverly Hills, and was the widow of a Hollywood director who had been blacklisted by McCarthy. Thelma Ruby, who played Bella and was coincidentally married to Peter Frye, went on to have a successful career in the West End. The music, which remains popular, was a key component of the success and was written by a former employee of "Sesame Street".
To see the opening of Neighbours: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH58fJxiKqE
of Here We Are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13E9ihrXt6I&feature=related
Educational TV's site allows some episodes to be viewed:
Here We Are: http://www.23tv.co.il/358-he/Tachi.aspx
Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...
My grandmother, Betty Löwenstein (maiden name Ehrlich), escaped Germany by fleeing east and caught one of the last Trans-Siberian trains bef...
A few days before Israel's last election, I was sent a link by an NGO dedicated to maintaining “pure elections”. The NGO, Mishmar Habhir...
Hope I grew up knowing very little about my birth grandmother - not even her name - although I knew that she had been killed in the Holoca...