Iron Man squeezed, Birthday notes, Harry Potter on Broadway

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Iron Man squeezed

The Marvel Comics’ character, Iron Man, created by Stan Lee, 87, and the late Jack Kirby, made a very successful transition to the screen in 2008. The sequel, “Iron Man 2,” opens May 7.

The plot: With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with aide Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, 37) and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), must forge new alliances — and confront powerful enemies.

Like the original, the sequel was directed by Jon Favreau, 43, who constantly switches hats between actor and director. Favreau and his wife, physician Joya Tillem Favreau, a native of Sonoma, have three kids and are practicing Jews. Joya’s uncle is attorney Len Tillem, a popular KGO radio talk-show host.

Birthday notes

Friday, April 30, is my birthday, and being a history-minded guy, I’ve made a mental note of notable events on this date. The list includes: Washington’s first inauguration (1789), the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the fall of Saigon (1975) and Hitler’s suicide (1945).

During Hitler’s lifetime, Jews told this grim joke: Hitler visits a psychic who tells him that he will die on a Jewish holiday. Hitler asks, “Which one?” The psychic says, “Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday.” So today is a Jewish holiday of sorts.

 It is also the 77th birthday of country music legend Willie Nelson. Virtuoso harmonica player Mickey Raphael, 59, has been in Nelson’s band since 1973. Born and raised in Dallas, Raphael had a  Jewish father who fled from Germany in 1936; his mother is an American-born Jew.

Raphael is interviewed in Scott Benarde’s 2003 book on Jewish rockers, “Stars of David.” He told Benarde that Nelson, a kind gentleman, has never uttered an anti-Semitic remark and that the singer of “On the Road Again” knows a lot about Jews and Judaism. However, most country music people, Raphael says, are woefully ignorant about Jews and Judaism, some even using a phrase like “Jew ’em down” without realizing how offensive it is.

‘Harry Potter’ on Broadway?

Daniel Radcliffe, 20, the star of the “Harry Potter” movies, is going to star in a new Broadway revival of the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It is set to open next year. The play opened in 1962 to glorious reviews, ran for four years and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The songs were by Frank Loesser (1910-1969) and the story by Abe Burrows (1910-1985).

A 1995 revival, starring Matthew Broderick, now 48, ran for about two years. Like Broderick, Radcliffe is the son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father (Daniel identifies as Jewish, but is secular). It looks like Radcliffe — again like Broderick — is going to make the difficult transition from an adolescent star to a successful adult actor.

I recently visited a website devoted to the original “Mickey Mouse Club” (which first aired 55 years ago) and was surprised to learn that three of the original Mousekeeters had a Jewish background: Judy Harriet, born Judy Spiegelman; Eileen Diamond; and Doreen Tracey. The first two were one-season-only performers. Doreen, who was a star Mousekeeter, had a Jewish father but was raised in her mother’s Catholic faith. These three women, like most ex-Mousekeeters, did not have much success as adult performers. Diamond, however, has had a long career as an artistic director in high-quality regional theater. Learn more at

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.