Jane Ising, 110, editor Harry Coen, 67, actor Ben Gazzara, 81 – not Jewish, but…


In case you had seen headlines and were wondering, the subjects of this item, supercentenarian Jane Ising, 110, British editor Harry Coen, 67, and actor Ben Gazzara, 81, all of whom died in the last week, were not Jewish. But their stories are worth noting.


Birthday celebrations at her suburban Chicago nursing home were all set for Jane Ising when she died Feb. 2 on her 110th birthday. Ising fled Germany after Kristallnacht in 1938 with her Jewish physicist husband, Ernst.

“They came in, they destroyed the school [where my father taught], and so my parents escaped and my father took a bunch of the kids through the woods to get on the train so that they would be safe,” her son, Thomas Ising said. The family settled in Peoria, Ill., where they taught at Bradley University. Ising was an economist.

British journalist Harry Coen, who died on his 67th birthday, went from "Gay News" to editor of England’s "Catholic Herald." According to the Telegraph: "Many found the latter appointment all the more remarkable because they wrongly assumed, owing to his last name, that he was Jewish. In fact, he was a convinced mystical humanist and lapsed Roman Catholic who had profound disagreements with nearly all aspects of Church doctrine.

When he was appointed to the Catholic newspaper post, Coen’s old friend and colleague Frank Johnson, said: “But that’s impossible, dear boy, you are an apostate pervert.”

Actor Ben Gazzara was the son of Sicilian immigrants but remained close to Jewish friends his entire life.

"My earliest friends were Jews, when it wasn’t so chic to have Jewish friends," Gazzara said in 1991. "I found them exciting, in terms of their intelligence and their passion about acting or producing or directing."

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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