Thursday, August 19, 2010

Profile: Jake LaMotta

Many call "Raging Bull" the greatest sports movie of all time... For me, it's just too heavy. How can you have a great sports movie without a campy montage?

LaMotta was suggested by Angelo from Philadelphia.


  1. Wow I never knew that Jake La Motta had a Jewish mother (like I didn't Sly Stallone either!). Thanks for the info.

  2. I think it's Stallone's grandmother who's either Jewish or half Jewish... The mother is definitely not a practicing Jew.

  3. Yeah. This one is a big surprise, just like Stallone (one-quarter) was, too.

    I think there was (maybe still is) a minority way of carrying yourself as Jewish, a tough, sleeveless t-shirts way, that looked a lot like what we think of as Italian.

  4. Stallone's maternal grandfather was Jewish (fully Jewish). Sly's maternal grandmother was from Brittany, France, and presumably Catholic. I don't think he was raised with any knowledge of his Jewish background, unlike some other quarter Jews (say Robert Downey, Jr).

    But are you guys sure about this one (LaMotta)? I'm trying to verify it online but can't find anything concrete.

  5. Seems to be enough out there:
    "They recognize Max Baer but leave out Jake LaMotta, despite the latter’s Jewish mother."
    "Jake La Motta (Giacobe La Motta) had a Jewish mother. He married six times. Four of his wives were Jewish. He married one woman twice, so that he married Jewish five times."

    That said, will I be surprised if this turns out to be wrong? No.

  6. Eh, that first one doesn't seem very reliable to me. Lists of names usually get 1 or 2 wrong just to prove that lists of names aren't reliable.

    Dunno about the second one - How does this dude Gerhard Falk know LaMotta's mother was Jewish? And he got Max Baer a little off - it was Baer's grandfather who was Jewish, not father.

    But - 1996 NY Daily News, Jake's son says Jake's mother was Sicilian

    1985 Boston Globe, Jake says his mother is a "girl from Trieste" (in Italy)

    Sounds like the Jewish mother thing may be some sort of urban legend that got passed around boxing old-timers. Like the DeNiro Jewish mother rumor - ironically!

    And I am NOT running down the background of the five wives! :-)

  7. Hmmmm. Yep, as I said I would not be surprised if this was false. Good finds. Re-writing.

  8. And re-written. Seriously, thank you. As I said above, this was the one case where I just wasn't sure about the sources we found. (Although Sicily is not Trieste, but that seems closer to the truth.)

  9. You are too lazy to read Wiki. Stallone's grandmother was Catholic from North France. I sup-
    pose, Jaquline never told Francesco and their
    children about her Father's jewish roots. It's
    obviosly, that Sylvester profited from his ITALIAN
    name and look (there was a "Godfather's time) just as he become famous, journalists "discovered"
    his partly jewish ancestary

  10. I don't know whether La Motta's mother was Jewish or not. There are Jewish Italians, even Jewish Italian boxers (Earl Mastro for one) . The point is that La Motta gave two interviews during which he stated he or his mother was Jewish. One was with Charlie Williams in 2005, the other with Andrew Sherwood in 2008. Maybe La Motta was making it up, maybe he was delusional, and maybe his mother was an ethnic Jew. After all she was his mother. As for Trieste, it is in Italy on the east side of the Adriatic Sea, but nowhere near Sicily.

  11. The Charlie Williams one doesn't look to be a real interview:

    But the Andrew Sherwood one... well, looks like another re-write.

  12. Agreed, the Williams piece was pure fiction, but what do you mean by "looks like another re-write." for Sherwood? I've also read that LaMotta wore a Jewish star on his trunks for some of his earlier bouts. Frankly, I'm dubious about his Jewish ancestry, but the fact the issue even came up is indicative of an ongoing focus regarding Jewish identity. I know I'm guilty.
    Noone seems to deny De Niro's Italian identify, even though he's only 1/4 Italian (paternal grandfather). So lets give Max a break.

  13. she was not jewish, She was Greek orthodox.....

    1. Oh yeh? What's your source? So far, noone has disproved La Motta's own statements about HIS mother.

  14. Curtis Silva mentioned it on his radio show when he met that Jake that he told him he was half Jewish, that his mother was Jewish.