British music impresario, and proud dad, Simon Cowell, had been chasing up his family’s Jewish roots ahead of the birth on Friday of son Eric, in New York City, according to Daily Mail showbiz writer Alison Boshoff.
“Indeed, when I was conducting research into his family for this paper, Cowell rang me to ask about it,” Boshoff wrote late Sunday. “Aware that the paternal side of his family was Jewish, through his father’s mother Esther who had fled here from Poland, he wanted to know about the maternal side.”
“‘Are you sure they aren’t Jewish as well?’ he asked. They aren’t, but he thought his mum Julie was the archetypal Jewish mother, endlessly adoring of her children,” Boshoff said.
The baby’s Jewish mother Lauren Silverman, from New York, convinced Cowell, who recently gave £100,000 to the Los Angeles Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, to have a Jewish wedding, complete with Israeli dancing.
“Simon’s son — Eric Phillip Cowell — is certainly Jewish,” Boshoff noted in the article.
Baby Eric’s namesake, Eric Selig Phillip Cowell, was Simon’s father, an “East End boy with Jewish roots who became a property mogul,” according to Boshoff.
Family patriarch Joseph Cowell had been a rope-maker from Whitechapel, UK. He married Esther Malinsky, a Polish Jew whose family emigrated to the UK, in 1915.
Eric, born in 1918, qualified as a surveyor, but soon joined the Middlesex Regiment in World War II and was posted to Calcutta, India, as a clerk. When he returned to England, he developed a property management business; one of his clients was EMI, the music publishing and record company, where Simon got his first job as a runner in their mail room.
The Cowell family had other entertainment industry connections: Gerry Blatner, head of Warner Brothers studios in the UK, lived next door to them in Elstree, England, and his movie star parties often extended to the Cowell home.
According to the Daily Mail’s Bishoff: “Simon’s younger brother Nick recalled: ‘We had the likes of Gregory Peck, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in our house. As children, Simon and I didn’t really understand who they were. But we loved the events.’ Simon once said a highlight of his childhood was to sit on the lap of U.S. actress Bette Davis.”
Eric Cowell died aged 81, in 1999, on the eve of Simon’s biggest break, when his band Westlife hit the top of the charts with its first number one song, Boshoff wrote.
Cowell told her: “‘I phoned him to tell him about the Number One, because that’s what I did — when something good happened, I called my dad.”
“At first, my mother couldn’t even tell me he was dead. She just listened to me burbling on. Then she called me back to tell me. Awful.”
“‘It was the ultimate irony. The worst thing that could happen and the best — all in the one day. It just shocked me to the core. I just never thought my dad wouldn’t be around.’”