Drew, our Jewish wedding singer

By Julie Burchill, February 3, 2012

So Drew Barrymore may be converting to Judaism. Perhaps when she marries art consultant Will Kopelman in a traditional Jewish ceremony later this year, Adam Sandler will be the best man and seafood will be noticeable by its absence at the bridal buffet.

What an absolute coup, if it were true, to bag a convert as delightful as Drew. And just when the Hollywood ranks could use boosting, after the train-wreck that is now the union of Mr and Mrs Smug - Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher - who appeared to use Kabbalah like it was some sort of work-out crossed with bubble bath; religion as ego-boosting feelgood snake-oil. One would have to have a heart of stone and a funnybone of polystyrene not to find their break-up - over something as banal as a brace of faceless blondes in a hot-tub - extremely amusing.

Old Hollywood was superior to modern Hollywood in so many ways - the suicides were stylish (why don't film stars kill themselves anymore? It's very spoilsport) - while the dialogue was sparkling and the heaving casting couches turned out great stars of both sexes, rather than today's respectable beds of Bel Air, which produce useless second-generation film-stars like Kate Hudson. But the best and biggest way Old Hollywood was better was that it was ruled by Jews.

The syndrome of the silver screen shiksa goddess converting in order to win the hand of the Jewish writer/director/producer is the stuff of legend. Even Marlene Dietrich, who never married one, was stripped of her German citizenship by the Nazi regime because "constant contact with Jews has rendered her entirely un-German" - surely the best ever compliment intended as a diss.

Marilyn Monroe, Carroll "Baby Doll" Baker, Carolyn "Morticia" Jones, Norma Shearer, May Britt, Eleanor Parker, Polly Bergen and, of course, Elizabeth Taylor. Just when one thought that Taylor and Richard Burton couldn't be be any more gorgeous a couple, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's Furious Love, which chronicles their stormy union, carried a description of a quarrel they had over who was "more Jewish".

Screen shiksa converting is the stuff of legend

"Burton had referred to the Welsh as 'the Jews of Britain', a comment on their self-identity as the outsiders of the United Kingdom." (Ernest Jones, the biographer of Freud, first said this.) "You're not Jewish at all," he told Elizabeth in one of their very public fights, "If there's any Jew in this family, it's me."

There is a story that soon after her conversion, she sought out a senior crew member on her next film and cheekily said: "You're Jewish - I'm Jewish - we should go to the studio and tell them we can't work on Jewish holidays. That way everyone on the set gets extra days off." Apparently he affectionately replied: "Elizabeth, you're Jewish until the next pogrom."

But she was a devoted friend of Israel her whole life, raising money for the Jewish National Fund and even offering herself as a replacement hostage during the 1976 Entebbe skyjacking.

More recently, Isla Fisher studied for three years to marry Sacha Baron Cohen, taking the Hebrew name Ayala. But it is the story of Margot Stilley, incandescently beautiful star of the frisky film 4 Songs, whose story is the most intriguing. Drawn to Judaism even before her engagement to a Jew, she said: "I am not Jewish because I choose to be; I am Jewish because there is no other choice for me."

Interestingly, Miss Stilley rejected Islam, after reading the Koran "which I found too accepting of violence, constrained by time and place and too vague when it came to feminism". Never mind - they got Lauren Booth. Oh dear - Monroe, Taylor, Barrymore - versus Lauren Booth.

Biblical-epic fail. We win!

Last updated: 11:29am, February 3 2012