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No. 18: Abie’s Irish Rose

The idea of Jewish-Irish intermarriage

Jody Rosen
December 08, 2011

1928, dir. Victor Fleming. The story of Abie Levy, who passes off his Irish bride Rosemary as a Jew, began as a smash Broadway farce, which ran from 1922 to 1927. (“Our future babies/ We’ll take to Abie’s Irish Rose/ I hope they’ll live to/ See it close,” snipped Rogers and Hart’s “Manhattan.”) Victor Fleming’s film adaptation is largely lost to history; only a few reels remain, in the Library of Congress. But those excerpts stand as important artifacts of 1920s pop culture—a reminder that, once upon a time, nothing tickled America’s funnybone like the idea of Jewish-Irish intermarriage.

Jody Rosen is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine.