Thursday, October 18, 2007

Our Man Elli remembers Joey Bishop

Back in February, Our Man Elli in Israel emailed to remind us that it was Joey Bishop's birthday. He checks in from Jerusalem today, to share his memories of the late comic and Rat Packer-- and to respond to the Associated Press' description of his early years:

I interviewed him 20 years ago for the Jewish Oral History Library, now housed in the New York Public Library's Judaica Division.

The Associated Press writes: "...Born in New York's borough of the Bronx, Bishop was the youngest of five children of two immigrants from Eastern Europe..."

Why not say they were Jews? He was such a Jewish comedian-- the only Jew in the Rat Pack, and proud of it.
(Hey, what about Sammy? --ed.)

"When he was 3 months old, the family moved to South Philadelphia..."

He was very very poor as a kid. His father owned and operated a bicycle repair shop on a small street near 4th and Snyder Avenue in South Philly-- and slept in the same bed with one of his brothers till he was 10 or 12, or maybe even later, I forget. I remember asking him what his ambition was when he was growing up.

He answered seriously: "To have my own bed."

I also asked him what period in history he would like to go back to visit. He said Jesus's time, to see exactly what happened, to figure out where the Christ-killing anti-semitism came from.

A great guy.

Here's a nice link.

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