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Sex sells: Sarah Jessica Parker tops list of highest paid U.S. actresses

by Danielle Berrin

July 6, 2011 | 1:04 pm

Sarah Jessica Parker, photo courtesy of Forbes.com

Are the ‘shiksa goddess’ days over?

Given this summer’s movie lineup of headlining Jewish actresses—“Friends with Benefits” starring Mila Kunis and “Beginners” with Melanie Laurent, for example—it’s a fair conclusion. At least in Hollywood, Jewish women are more visible than ever.  And now a new report, asserting that Sarah Jessica Parker, the Jewish star of “Sex and the City” is one of the highest paid actresses in the nation is yet another marker that Jewish women in the acting biz are on their way up.

According to the latest rankings from Forbes.com, Parker tied Angelina Jolie for the top spot, since they both earned an estimated $30 million last year.

As the star and producer of “Sex and the City” Parker banks big time off of series residuals, but has also scored with two spin-off movies; the first Sex and the City movie grossed $415 million in 2008, the 2010 sequel did not do as well but clocked in at a respectable $288 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Continuing to bolster her image as a style icon, thanks to the marketable visual flair of alter ego Carrie Bradshaw (and the wildly imaginative stylings of costume designer Patricia Field) Parker earns an additional $18 million from fashion-related enterprises. She developed a line of perfumes, Lovely, Covet and Dawn, which can be found at national retailers like CVS and Kmart, and also designs a clothing line for the high-end label, Halston.

Not every SJP fashion venture was so successful. Her first foray designing duds for the New York-based retailer Steve and Barry’s was, well, a dud. Her women’s sportswear line, Bitten, was discontinued after only a year on racks when the chain went under.

But we won’t cry for the most successful Jewish actress in America.

Coursing through Parker’s veins is a true Jewish immigrant success story. She is the daughter of a Jewish father of Eastern European decent and her great-grandfather came to America via Ellis Island, where family lore has it that his name was mistakenly changed from Bar-Kahn to Parken to Parker. In the book “Stars of David”, Abigail Pogrebin’s inquiry into the Jewish identity of celebrities, Parker spoke about her Jewish connection, lineage, lack of religious education and her love for New York as “a Jewish city.” 

“If we [she and husband Matthew Broderick, whose mother is Jewish] went to this temple next door, where would we begin? We’re so behind.’ In temple, it seems like you have to know what you’re doing. And it intimidates people; it certainly intimidates me. And I keep saying, `I’m not a religious person,’ but I know that’s not true; I know that I believe that there’s somebody who watches over us and he or she takes care or not, or teaches us. I really do—strangely enough–kind of cling to that.” 

“I have, frankly, always just considered myself a Jew…I was always responding to things that were Jewish.”

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