Ozzy Osbourne's father-in-law added to Dictionary of National Biography

By Jennifer Lipman, January 6, 2011
Don Arden with his daughter Sharon Osbourne

Don Arden with his daughter Sharon Osbourne

Humorist Alan Coren and the music impresario father of Sharon Osbourne are among the Jewish names who have been added to Britain’s most prestigious biographical collection.

A total of 216 famous faces who died in 2007 have been added to the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).

New entries for 2011 include poet and translator Michael Hamburger, theatre director Frank Hauser, who worked with stars from Dame Judi Dench to Sir Ian McKellen in his glittering career, and Robert Cahn, who became the first professor of materials science in Britain after escaping from Nazi Germany as a child

Film producer Aida Young, who was born in 1920 to an Orthodox family in Stepney Green and whose credits include One Million Years BC, is now on the list, as is publisher Frank Cass, owner of Valentine Mitchell.

The Stanmore Synagogue regular, whose company was once owned by the JC, brought out more than 4,000 books and journals on his career covering subjects from the Soviet Union to the Middle East.

Barnet-born Mr Coren, praised by the DNB for his “fearless willingness to make jokes at the expense of the medium's darlings” was the first Jewish editor of the magazine Punch. The writer, described by some as Britain’s funniest, also wrote for The Times, the Daily Mail and the Sunday Express.

Mr Arden, born Harry Levy in Crumpsall in 1926, was a prominent figure in showbusinesses for decades and managed his son-in-law Ozzy Osbourne’s band Black Sabbath before a family feud in the 1980s.

The DNB entry described him as the “self-styled Al Capone of Pop” who by the 1960s “had enshrined his reputation as one of the most successful and feared managers in British pop music”.

Mr Arden, who was barmitzvah at Higher Broughton and Higher Crumpsall Synagogue and launched his musical career in its choir, helped save the synagogue from a financial crisis in 2003. He donated £3,675 to clear the synagogue’s debt, which was threatening members’ burial arrangements.

He died at the age of 81 after a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and was buried in Salford.

The print edition of the DNB, which was first published in 1885, includes more than 60,000 pages over 60 volumes.

The online collection is home to 57,000 life stories, including those of Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild and Herbert Samuel, who served as the high commissioner of Palestine.

Last updated: 12:51pm, January 6 2011