Joan Micklin Silver, Director of Seminal LES RomCom ‘Crossing Delancey,’ Dies at 85

Posted on: January 4th, 2021 at 5:08 am by

Guss’ Pickles had the movie poster on its window, Oct. 2009

Joan Micklin Silver, the filmmaker who broke ground with Hester Street, and hit the masses with Crossing Delancey, passed away last Thursday. She died at her home in Manhattan at the age of 85.

Her daughter Claudia Silver told the New York Times that the cause of death was vascular dementia.

Of Crossing Delancey, the seminal romantic comedy based on the Lower East Side, the Times noted in its obit:

The studios found [Crossing Delancey] “too ethnic” too — “a euphemism,” Ms. Silver told The Times, “for Jewish material that Hollywood executives distrust.”

Luckily, Ms. Irving’s husband at the time, the director Steven Spielberg, was fond of Jewish history himself. He suggested that she send the script to a neighbor of his in East Hampton, N.Y. — a top Warner Entertainment executive. The film grossed more than $116 million worldwide (about $255 million today).

It is difficult to say which was Ms. Silver’s most vicious antagonist, anti-Semitism or misogyny.

Joan Micklin was born on May 24, 1935, in Omaha, where she lived until attending Sarah Lawrence College.

Silver directed seven feature films during her lifetime:

Hester Street
Bernice Bobs Her Hair
Between the Lines
Chilly Scenes of Winter (Head Over Heels)
Crossing Delancey
Loverboy
Big Girls Don’t Cry … They Get Even
A Fish in the Bathtub

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