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Charlie Sheen——Jewish?—-Almost Certainly a Fantasy1:17 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011
by nate bloom
I need not detail here the outlandish behavior of actor Charlie Sheen in the last few weeks or months — or for that matter, his history of pretty outrageous behavior and substance abuse dating back decades. I do find it interesting, however, that most of the media examines a lot of his statements to see if they “jive with reality” or “make sense.” However, nobody seems to think that Charlie could have been having a ‘flight of fancy,’ or was inventing a false defense to the charge of anti-Semitism when he proclaimed, on March 4, “that he is Jewish.”
Sheen seems to believe that his mother, Janet Sheen, is Jewish on her mother’s side.
It’s my conclusion, after extensive research, that it is exceedingly unlikely that Charlie Sheen’s mother, Janet, has any Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side.
But let’s back-up for a moment and see why Mr. Sheen might want to say he is Jewish. Well, as the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) wrote on March 6, in an article about Sheen: “Sheen, 45, star of the hit TV comedy ‘Two and a Half Men,’ which has been suspended for the rest of this season and may be canceled, lashed out last month at the Anti-Defamation League following its charge that Sheen had exhibited “borderline anti-Semitism” in referring to his producer, Chuck Lorre, by his Hebrew name, Chaim Levine. Sheen has demanded an apology from the ADL.”
Sheen’s mocking attack on Chuck Lorre is not the only example of Sheen’s anti-Jewish animus that recently made the media. On March 1, Brooke Mueller, 33, Sheen’s estranged wife, and the mother of his twin, 23-month-old sons, filed a court petition for a temporary restraining order preventing Sheen from contacting her or the twins. Her request was granted, pending further hearing(s). In her court papers, Mueller laid-out Sheen’s history of domestic violence and drug abuse. She also stated that Sheen recently sent her a text message that said: "I must execute mark b [MARK BURG] like the stoopid jew pig that he is."
TMZ.com reports that the text was apparently sent near the end of February, right after Sheen fired Mark Burg as his manager. Sheen re-hired Burg on March 1 or perhaps a day before. On March 2, Burg, who is Jewish, told TMZ.com that Sheen’s three attorneys (including his divorce lawyer) are Jewish. He added, “I've known [Sheen] for 13 years. I don't believe that he actually sent that text…[and] for the record, since Brooke Mueller is Jewish that would make Charlie Sheen's two sons also Jewish."
I had never heard that Brooke Mueller is Jewish—and I thought, perhaps, that Burg had made a mistake or was lying—because if Mueller is Jewish—that would “tend” to undercut the claim that Sheen is anti-Semitic. Although it certainly wouldn’t absolutely prove that the drug-addled Sheen didn’t send the text message or doesn’t harbor anti-Semitic views.
I checked a bunch of public records (census, obituaries, wedding announcements, and family trees)--- and, it is true, Mueller’s mother Miora Fiore, 57, born Moira Roskin, is Jewish. Brooke’s late father, Allen Mueller, from whom Moira was divorced long before his death, was the son of two Lutheran parents. I have no idea if Brooke was raised in any faith. Brooke has worked as a TV entertainment news reporter and is currently described as a “real estate investor.” Sheen and Mueller wed in 2008 and filed for divorce last year. (See sources, attached).
The fact that Brooke Mueller has a Jewish mother is a bit of a surprise. But she isn’t a major celebrity by any means and I wasn’t shocked when Burg’s statement that she is “Jewish” was verified (although in conventional terms, she might be described as “half Jewish”). As I said, Burg mentioned Mueller was “Jewish” to take the edge off the charge that Charlie Sheen was anti-Semitic.
But, if you think about it, what better defense could Burg come up with than to claim that Charlie, himself, was Jewish? Burg, who has known Charlie Sheen a lot longer than he has known Brooke Mueller, didn’t seem to know that Charlie “was Jewish.”
But Charlie seems to think he is Jewish.
On March 4, Charlie Sheen told the TV show Access Hollywood that his mother is “Jewish.”
Here is what Sheen said; in relevant part:
“My mom is Jewish. Here’s where it gets confusing – we don’t know who her father was,” [Charlie told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover during the phone interview on Friday’s show.] “But she is, in fact, Jewish. So, I guess that would make me Jewish, and my children Jewish. And Brooke [Mueller], my ex-wife is Jewish. So, I guess I should’ve rolled all that out too.” (End Quote)
If Sheen had claimed that his father, actor Martin Sheen, was Jewish---everyone would have known immediately that he was lying or completely off his rocker. Martin Sheen is well-known to be a devout liberal Catholic and the son of an Irish Catholic immigrant mother and a Spanish (from Spain) Catholic immigrant father.
Martin’s birth—and still legal name is Ramon Estevez. His children, including Charlie Sheen, were raised in Martin’s Catholic faith.
However, Charlie’s mother, usually identified as Janet Templeton Sheen or, simply Janet Sheen, is a lot more obscure figure. Sources all agree that she and Martin Sheen married in December 1961. She is described as being an art student on scholarship in New York City when she and Martin Sheen met. Martin Sheen was born in August, 1940.
Janet Sheen is described as being born in July, 1944 in several sources. If this date is correct, Janet was 17 when she wed, and Martin Sheen was 20. Their first child, Emilio Estevez, was born in May, 1962. If you do the math re: Emilio’s arrival—you can see why they wed so young.
In researching Janet’s background—I tried to “parse” Charlie’s statement to Access Hollywood. He says that his mother’s father’s identity is unknown.
One would presume that this means that Charlie’s maternal grandmother either did not know the name of the man who fathered Janet or chose to keep this secret. I can think of no other logical interpretation of this statement.
It is totally illogical to believe that Charlie Sheen is claiming to be Jewish by virtue of an “unknown” maternal grandfather. Charlie Sheen must be claiming to be “Jewish” by virtue of some Jewish ancestry on his maternal grandmother’s side---or—much more unlikely—that his mother is a convert to Judaism.
As for the latter possibility---I think we might have heard sometime in the past that the “very Catholic” Martin Sheen had a wife who converted to Judaism. Martin Sheen constantly discusses his faith with the press. If his wife had taken a very different religious path, I think he might have mentioned this to the press.
But Martin Sheen didn’t mention any such conversion. As a matter-of-fact, in 1968, while talking to the NY Times for a full scale profile, Sheen said this: “Oh, I argue with Janet a lot. She's a devout atheist and I'm a Catholic.”
Charlie was born in 1965. His three siblings were all born before 1968. If Charlie’s mother (and I am almost getting into ludicrous speculation here)—converted to Judaism—it would almost certainly have to be after the birth of her children. After all, she was a “devout atheist” in 1968, according to Martin Sheen.
So, even if Janet Sheen is a convert to Judaism—and we have no evidence for that—her children (including Charlie) would not be Jewish under any wing of Judaism unless the conversion took place before their birth—or if they independently converted to Judaism.
But let’s get back to more rational speculation. Perhaps, as I said above, Charlie is saying that his mother, Janet, is Jewish by virtue of Janet’s maternal ancestors.
Suffice it to say that it was not easy finding Janet’s mother’s name. It is not in any standard Martin Sheen biography. I had some luck in the Google newspaper archive. Janet Sheen’s mother is mentioned in three articles in the Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator newspaper. The first, dated July, 26, 1963, mentions the visit to North Benton, Ohio of young actor Martin Sheen and his wife, Janet. They were visiting North Benton residents identified as Janet’s parents---Ray and Lena Conde.
During his visit to North Benton, Martin Sheen even stopped by the Vindicator newspaper offices to discuss his career and credits. (Even so, the newspaper mis-spelled his name as “Sheehan”). The article photo is of Martin Sheen and the couple’s then one-year-old son, Emilio (aka, actor Emilio Estevez), is mentioned.
I don’t believe that Ray Conde is the father of Janet Sheen (just her stepfather) and I couldn’t find out much about him. Clearly, however, Lena Conde is the mother of Janet Templeton Sheen.
On Nov. 13, 1982, a letter to an entertainment columnist appeared in several papers, including the Youngstown Vindicator and the St. Joseph, Missouri News-Press. This syndicated columnist had previously written that Martin Sheen was born in Puerto Rico.
The letter writer said that she was Martin’s mother-in-law of over 20 years and gave Sheen’s correct birth place (Ohio). It was signed Lynn Conde; North Benton, Ohio. (I assume that “Lynn” was a mis-print—her name is clearly Lena.)
Lastly, on Sept. 13, 1994, the obituary of Lena Conde appeared in the Vindicator. The obituary said that Conde, a former North Benton resident, a homemaker, died in the home of her daughter in Malibu, California and that her daughter’s name was Janet Sheen. The obit goes on to say that Lena Conde was born on April 30, 1918 in Salyersville, Kentucky.
The obituary identifies Lena’s parents as Samuel (also known as “Tom”), and Martha Flynt Martin, and notes that Lena had three siblings who predeceased her—sisters Mary Elizabeth Love and Iva Ryan, and brother Bruce Martin. Lena’s late husband is identified as “Roy Conde” (not Ray).
Finally, the obituary says that Lena Conde had 17 grandchildren.
If the figure on the number of grandchildren is correct---this means Lena had children other than Janet, but they are curiously not mentioned in the obituary. (Janet only provided four grandchildren for her mother, Lena). There is no mention of anyone named Templeton. (Lena Conde’s 1994 death also appears on the California Death Index, a state run database.)
I suspect most readers who have got to this point are thinking---none of these last names sound in the least “Jewish” and where is Salyersville, Kentucky?
Well, here is a reference article on Salyersville: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salyersville,_Kentucky
As you can see, this town (a county seat) is in a very rural area of Kentucky pretty far away from any major population center. It had less than 2,000 people in 2000. It is an almost all-white town. It is quite far away from the few Jewish communities of any size in Kentucky (ie, Lexington and Louisville).
Let’s put it this way—a Jewish person in this town would be a rare event, now or in the past century. A check of JewishGen, a major Jewish family history site—discloses no references to this town in their huge database. A Google search of this town’s name and “Jewish” brings up nothing but a few obituaries about Salyersville residents dying at the Cincinnati Jewish hospital. It is almost 100 “tough” hilly miles from Salyersville to the nearest synagogue in Lexington.
Lena Martin, later Lena Conde, shows up on the 1920 census. Because non-members might not be able to access the ancestry.com federal census records—here it is in lay-out format:
Name: Lena Martin
Home in 1920: Salyersville, Magoffin, Kentucky
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1919
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Father's Name: Tom S Martin (Profession—Farmer; Farm Laborer)
Father's Birth Place: Kentucky
Mother's Name: Martha Martin (born Martha Flynt)
Mother's Birth Place: Kentucky
Marital Status: Single
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Tom S Martin 30 [known as “Tom”; In other sources his first name is Samuel]
Martha Martin 25
Iva Martin 6
Samuel Martin 3
From this point (1920), assisted by a friend, we traced the matrilineal line (Lena’s mother’s line) back a few more generations via census and other records. Every name is a “WASP” name and this continues back, in Kentucky and Virginia, to the early 1800s. I can provide these records on request.
No person familiar with Jewish family history records, Jewish settlement in America, or any general family history expert—would have any reason to believe that there is anyone Jewish in this family line.
Obviously, Martin Sheen and Janet Sheen are besieged now with media requests. Understandably, they are barely talking to the press. They certainly aren’t going to issue a special press release saying that Janet “has no Jewish ancestry.” It would be an odd press release in the best of circumstances.
What we are left with is a claim of Jewish ancestry by Charlie Sheen that makes no apparent sense. No, I could not find an obituary about a church funeral for his maternal grandmother, Lena Conde. But everything else I found leads one to the conclusion that it is exceedingly unlikely that Janet Sheen has any Jewish ancestry in her mother’s line. Nor is there any reason to believe she is a convert to Judaism.
Galliano Follows Sheen
I should say that in my heart I think that Charlie Sheen is not a dyed-in-the-wool Jew-hater. He was not schooled in anti-Semitism; like Mel Gibson was (Gibson’s father is a notorious, life-long anti-Semite). Quite the contrary, everything I have ever read about Martin Sheen makes me think that anti-Semitism is absolutely repugnant to him.
I would give Charlie Sheen the benefit of the doubt and say—that unlike Gibson—his nasty statements about Jews are the product of a drug-addled mind that stooped to using anti-Semitic verbiage.
This said, I think Sheen, probably unconsciously, tapped into something quite old and something currently in the zeitgeist when he claimed his mother is Jewish—so as to deflect criticism such as that the ADL leveled at him.
Anti-Semites have historically twisted any event to blame the Jews. This includes blaming the Jews for their own persecution. For example, while there is no hard evidence that Hitler had any Jewish ancestry—junk history articles constantly appear claiming this are seized on by Jew-haters. Since “everything bad” is the Jews’ fault, anti-Semitic reasoning goes, and most people agree killing millions is bad—it follows that Jewish self-hate by “closet” Jews is the cause of the killing of millions of Jews.
This line of reasoning also appeals to unschooled people casting about for a “pop psychology” simplistic answer for why Hitler (or others) hated the Jews so much.
Recently, Mother Jones’ magazine published an article in which a friend of Jared Loughner, the alleged Tucson mass murderer, said that Loughner’s mother is Jewish and that Loughner posted his admiration for Mein Kampf on his website “to get a rise out of his mother.”
Anti-Semites seized on this statement to cast the blame on the Jews----a crazy guy, perhaps motivated by Nazi ideology, shoots a Jewish congresswoman. Nonetheless, they claim that it was a Jew who did the shooting—motivated by Jewish self-hatred.
I cooperated with the JTA and, as with this article, showed via public records that Loughner’s mother is not Jewish. But all it took one was quote to start the “blame the Jews for their own troubles” junk.
Likewise, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, published in the UK, published a piece on March 5 entitled, “Why Galliano Imploded: The Fashion King is now in Rehab Fighting His obsession with his own Jewish roots.” (John Galliano, as most people know, was recorded saying “I love Hitler” to strangers and is accused of making other anti-Semitic remarks)
One word on the Telegraph newspaper—repeatedly, in my experience, they publish articles that read “intelligently”—but are made-up junk. They just make it up.
Early on, the Telegraph article say that Galliano was raised a strict Roman Catholic. Then it says that the Telegraph spoke to an unnamed “confidant of Galliano”. This unnamed source says that Galliano was “obsessed with the idea of being descended from Jews.”
Notice that the Telegraph article author, Kathryn Knight, does NOT say that Galliano had such roots, but that he is “obsessed” with the “possibility.” She also says that “He [Galliano] always insisted he had Jewish blood from the Sephardi Jews who came from Spain and Portugal in the 19th century.”
Not only does Knight quote unnamed sources—she puts an historical error into Galliano’s mouth or Galliano doesn’t know what he is talking about. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492—from Portugal a few years later.
It is true that some Sephardim who converted to Christianity later managed to leave Spain/Portugal and reclaim their Jewish heritage. They (or their descendants) continued to flee Spain or Portugal for a century or so after the 1492 expulsion.
But there were no Sephardim leaving Spain and Portugal in the 19th century. (A few Jews, actually, started to ‘return’ to Spain and Portugal in the late 19th century.)
Obviously, the Telegraph article is sloppy work and may even be completely made-up journalism.
Knight’s article certainly is, however, a slam bang attention grabber. They stuck the “Jewish roots obsession” right in the headline—knowing that was the “hot part.”
This article also puts Galliano right into the’ box’ I referred to above. He is portrayed by the Telegraph as a self-hating “Jew” who, motivated by his own twisted relationship to his (alleged) Jewish identify, got drunk and said, “I love Hitler.”
If Galliano and Charlie Sheen are Jewish—then, in some way, they are off the hook for saying things that probably both of them—in better moments—know are awful and bigoted. They don’t have to take responsibility for their own actions.
If they are “Jewish,” the popular reasoning goes, Galliano and Sheen “cannot be anti-Semitic,” and if they say obviously anti-Semitic things, it is NOT because they were drawing on the deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the Christian and Islamic world. No, their anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic remarks are the product of “an obsession with their Jewish roots” or “Jewish self-hatred.”
Whether Galliano even believes he has Sephardi ancestors is really unknown.
But, I suspect that Charlie Sheen knew he had done wrong---the “Chaim Levine” cracks and the death threat against Mark Burg.
So, he invented a story about a Jewish mother---knowing that if he is “Jewish”—the world will say that he really isn’t an anti-Semite. Or that as a Jew, he should get a “pass” about the “Chaim” remark, just like black people get a “pass” when they refer to another black person using the “N” word.
In other words, Charlie’s off the hook if he is Jewish: Off the hook to the world---and off the hook in respect to his own conscience. I think it is better than even money that Charlie Sheen has halfway convinced himself that his mother is Jewish.
More seriously, this terrible Telegraph piece is being cited all over the Internet for the proposition that Galliano is Jewish. Of course, it is also now all over the ‘net that Charlie Sheen is “Jewish.”
So, the focus of the media has partially already shifted from examining why these two (Catholic-raised) men, while drug and drink addled, fell into gutter anti-Semitism—to a false perspective that two alleged “Jews” are spouting anti-Semitism.
And it is left to this underpaid writer to troll the pages of the Youngstown Vindicator-- because everybody else just takes a drug addled, crazy actor’s word for it that his mom is Jewish or cannot bother to check it out.
Nate Bloom writes a column on Jewish celebrities, broadly defined, for the American Israelite of Cincinnati, the Cleveland Jewish News, the Detroit Jewish News, New Jersey Jewish Standard, JWeekly of San Francisco, Tampa Jewish Federation. He writes a similar column for Interfaithfamily.com
Fiore/Brooke Mueller Sources
I found out Brooke Mueller’s mother’s name from this detailed article in the Palm Beach, Florida, newspaper. Ms. Fiore is a resident of Palm Beach. This article also says that the late Allan Mueller was Broke Mueller’s father.
In the article, Ms. Fiore, Brooke’s mother, is referred to as Moira Wolofsky Fiore. Subsequent research revealed that she was previously married to Kenneth Wolofsky, a wealthy real estate developer who died in 2003. She is his widow. Mr. Wolofsky’s funeral was at a synagogue, so he was obviously Jewish.
The wedding announcement and the obituary both mention the daughter of Kenneth and Moira—a Sydney Lane Wolofsky. She is Brooke’s half sister. The obituary mentions the name of Wolofsky’s stepson—Scott Mueller. He is Brooke’s full brother.
Scott lays out his family tree on this website. Scott provides his mother’s maiden name and four married names.
He also provides the names of his father (Allen Mueller) parents. Allen’s mother was Minette Rockoff. Minette’s father was a Lutheran minister:
Who's who in Chicago and Illinois: Volume 8
A.N. Marquis Company - 1945 - Snippet view
ROCKHOFF, Oscar Arnold William, clergyman; b Manltowoe. WIs.. Mar. 23. 1895; ». Fred William and Emma (Franke) R.; ed. Parochial School of First ... Oct. 20 1919: children— Minette Isabel, Eileen Louise. Or'dnined ministry Lutheran Ch.. ...
Allan Mueller’s father was buried out of a Lutheran church.
Scott Mueller lists Solomon and Carolyn Roskin as the parents of Moira Roskin.
Ancestry.com (via social security and other multiple records) lists Solomon Roskin as being born in 1918 in New York, moving to Miami in 1966, divorcing Carolyn Roskin in 1979, and dying in 2002.
Miami Herald - October 30, 2002 - Death Notice - Classified
In the 1920 census, Solomon Roskin is listed as the son of Russian immigrants and his parents are described as Yiddish speakers. So, he (Sol) was Jewish, for sure.
The social security death index lists Carolyn Roskin as being born in April, 1933 and dying in Boca Raton Florida in May, 2008.
Carolyn Roskin’s obituary in the Palm Beach Post mentions family “sitting shiva”. So she was Jewish, too.
Martin Sheen/Janet Sheen/Lena Conde sources
The ancestry of Charlie Sheen’s father, actor Martin Sheen, is well known and is accurately reported by many sources (even on Wikipedia). He was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of a Spanish Catholic immigrant father and an Irish Catholic immigrant mother.
The article in which Martin Sheen says Janet Sheen is a devout atheist must be paid for, or you have to be a subscriber to the print edition
Martin Sheen’s wife, since December 1961, is Janet Templeton, more often known as Janet Sheen.
August 11, 1968
Abstract summary: He picked the name "Martin" from a friend and "Sheen" because he was a ... Oh, I argue with Janet a lot. She's a devout atheist and I'm a Catholic. ...
The articles about Janet Sheen in the Vindicator, Ohio newspaper are referenced by web address in the text. They cannot be copied and pasted, because of the storage format.
The 1920 census lists Lena Martin Conde and family. I am not sure if Ancestry.com non-subscribers can access it. The census is available for free through other sources, like public library interfaces.
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