As the new series of The X-Files returns to Channel 5, Francine Wolfisz finds the kosher roots of the cult television show…
The rumours have been around for a while, but the spooky whistle is back and the truth is finally out there – Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, aka Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, have returned for a new, six-part series of The X-Files, which started last week on Channel 5. But who knew the hit sci-fi drama, which first aired in 1993, was soooo Jewish….
1. Trust Duchovny Leading man David Duchovny is half-Jewish through his father, Amram “Ami” Duchovny, a writer and publicist who worked for the American Jewish Committee. His paternal grandfather, Moshe Duchovny, was a Jewish immigrant from Berdychiv (now in Ukraine), while his paternal grandmother was born in Poland. His surname means “spiritual” in Russian.
2. The Star of David Just last month, David Duchovny finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. He told Variety that it was “a dream come true” to land the honour, particularly because it reminded him of his Jewishy childhood. He said: “I grew up on 11th Street and Second Avenue in New York and the Second Avenue Deli was a block away. They had their own walk of fame in front of the deli with stars of David on the street. I thought maybe I’d get one of those one day, but this is even better.”
3. Mulder The Mensch? Sharp-eyed X-Philes (the name given to staunch fans of The X-Files) will know there have been a number of very subtle hints over the years towards Mulder’s apparent Jew-ishness. In the episode Drive, Mulder sarcastically apologises on behalf of the “international Jewish conspiracy” when responding to a suspect’s anti-Semitic diatribe, to which Mulder seems to take offence. The suspect then guesses Mulder is Jewish, based on his last name. In another episode, The Field Where I Died, Mulder goes into a hypnotic trance and recalls his past life as a concentration camp prisoner during the Holocaust. But that theory is blown away slightly by Mulder’s Christian burial following his “death” in the episode Deadalive and he also seeks comfort in a Christian church in the episode Conduit. So the jury’s still out on this one…
4. Snow way! With its synthesised spookiness, The X-Files theme tune is perhaps Jewish composer Mark Snow’s best-known work. Born Martin Fulterman in 1946 in New York, he has written a number of catchy tunes, including the music for another Chris Carter series, Millennium, as well as Smallville, One Tree Hill, Blue Bloods, Hart To Hart and childrens’ favourite, Wonder Pets.
5. The write stuff Jewish writer and producer Howard Gordon started off writing scripts for the Emmy-nominated series Beauty And The Beast alongside Alex Gansa and eventually caught the eye of Chris Carter. He invited the pair to join The X-Files as supervising producers, where Gordon stayed until 1997. His projects since then have included Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, 24 and the Israeli drama-inspired Homeland, which he co-developed alongside Gansa and Gideon Raff.
6. Golem gosh! One famous episode written by Gordon was Kaddish, which originally aired in 1997 and deals with the legend of the Golem from the Kabbalah. In the episode, a Jewish man is killed by a group of teenagers working for a racist shop owner. One of the assailants, however, is soon strangled to death – and the fingerprints on his neck are Isaac’s. Mulder becomes convinced that the killing is the handiwork of a Golem intent on avenging Isaac’s death. Gordon has said of the episode: “I was always compelled by the Golem mythology. We had never dealt with the horrors of anti-Semitism and the power of the word on The X-Files. And because I’m Jewish, it was something that was really compelling to me personally.” The episode also featured an antique ring, a real Jewish relic owned by a rabbi who survived the Holocaust and had used it to marry two of Gordon’s friends.
7. Do doo do doo do doo do doo… The X-Files was inspired by a number of sci-fi hit shows, including The Twilight Zone, which was created by Jewish screenwriter Rodman “Rod” Edward Serling. Born in 1924 to a Jewish family in Syracuse, New York, he was the second of two sons born to Esther (née Cooper) and Samuel Lawrence Serling.
8. Nu talent Before they were famous, a host of tribe members found their showbiz feet by appearing on The X-Files, including Seth Green, Jack Black and Shia LaBeouf.
• The X-Files shows on Mondays, Channel 5, 9pm.