Most every Jewish kid who grew up in 1960s America looked up to Ringo Starr. He was one of us, the Jewish Beatle, the one who had been bar mitzvahed.
There was just one glitch: Ringo hadn’t been bar mitzvahed. Because Ringo isn’t Jewish.
But the myth of Ringo-as-Jew was so pervasive that in 1964, in the early days of Beatlemania, Ringo received death threats from anti-Semites before playing a concert in Montreal. He played with a bodyguard sitting beside him and genuinely feared he might be shot. Both he and George Harrison talked about the incident in the Beatles Anthology, the authorized biography published by the surviving Beatles in 2000. “Some people decided to make an example of me, as an English Jew,” Ringo said. “The one major fault is I’m not Jewish.”
The anthology should have put the Ringo rumors to sleep, but a quick jaunt around the web shows just how persistent the myth remains. A prominent White Power site has also clarified the question for its Jew-hating constituents—but we’re going to refrain from linking to that one.
Still, Ringo does have one indisputable Jewish connection – his wife, actress Barbara Bach, nee Goldbach.
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December 14, 2012