Student Work – Dudu Topaz and Frank McCourt

Our first assignment in LAW 2301 was to prepare a memo on a recently departed person who was famous/infamous/influential or interesting. Here are some of the great papers I received (plus a photo of the authors):



Dudu Topaz

Dudu Topaz

Dudu Topaz; Suicide of a Legendary Israeli Entertainer
Dudu Topaz was born on September 20, 1946 in Haifa, Israel and died on August 20, 2009 in Ramla, Israel at the age of 62. Topaz was an Israeli comedian for 40 years. He was referred to by the media as the “king of ratings”, because of how successful his shows were. He entertained millions of people all over Israel, and he toured America as well. Topaz committed suicide by allegedly hanging himself with an electric cable in the shower of the prison that he was sentenced to since May 31st, 2009. Topaz was accused and later guilty of ordering security guards to beat up television executives who tried to deprive Topaz of continuing doing his sitcom. The media told Topaz he was too old to continue to go on the air. So they took Topaz off the air not caring what it would do to him or his career. The attacks that Topaz ordered resulted in the network’s vice president of the show to get beaten up and very badly injured. He also had another network executive beat up that resulted in a death, and that is why he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
For his fans, this was a shock. Topaz was a very famous and rich man he was worth millions of shekels, (the currency used in Israel). Millions of shekels in Israel are like saying what Michael Jackson was worth. His career can be compared to Jackson’s; he was the Michael Jackson of Israel. He was not known to ever cause any harm to anyone, but he was rowdy a little wild and always put on a great show. In the press aside from all the controversy done at his shows which were made to entertain and to stand out, all that the media would learn is that Topaz gave tons of money to Israeli soldiers who returned wounded from the war. He visited widows and cried with them. He did so much good, and made one mistake, because he was seeking revenge on the media. A statement said that my mother gave me from when she was reading the Israeli newspaper was, ”Dudu would walk through the hot streets of Israel; with a bottle of water in one hand, and a book bag on. From house to house of widows he knew had lost their husbands in the war. He would sit on their laps and cry with them. The widow says, you are a comedian you are here to make me laugh, why are you crying? Dudu says, my fans and media know me as a clown, as a funny man. But I am a very emotional man and you see me now as vulnerable as I’ll ever be. With all the money I have in the world, do you see me driving up here in a limo?” That was very touching, and it is such a shame that he lost his mind when the producers of the show said no, you cannot perform anymore. He ordered those attacks out of pure anger, and the trial was long and it drained him. But after one of the producers died and Topaz was sentenced to 25 years in prison, he just lost it because this is Dudu Topaz, to Israeli’s he is known as a hero, a legend, a humanitarian. He did not want his fans or family to remember him as a criminal, which indeed he wasn’t. The facts about Topaz being a humanitarian were also given to me by my mother who was his biggest fan. There was no coverage by the media about the great things he did, only how his language was foul, his controversial shows, and the one mistake he made. But what about the free shows he gave to Israeli soldiers, no one wants to remember the good things about the deceased.
Sometimes there are good things to be recognized about people. When a celebrity makes a mistake, suddenly the media only covers and distributes all the negative aspects of that person’s career. Topaz now, like Jackson has so much gossip out about him, only very few like my mother who knew who Topaz really was know he should not have been sentenced to prison. My mother followed his career since the very beginning since she grew up in Israel. Up until she moved to America in 1986, until the day he died a few weeks ago. When he toured the United States she went to see his show, and she came home without a voice from laughing so hard. Topaz left three sons, from three different wives. He was divorced when he died. Another piece of information my mother gave me was that he left his sons 10 million dollars to split among themselves. His ex wives didn’t get anything at all.
Topaz was angry at the media, he says that he has helped so many celebrities get to where they are today, and no one wants him to continue doing this thing. Why should an entertainer stop entertaining if they still have so much left to give? Topaz tried to kill himself earlier, by injecting insulin into him. What does this tell you? The media or producers of a show can drive one crazy. After 40 years of entertaining an entire nation, how can someone tell the “king of comedy” not to be a comedian anymore. He felt he could still shine, then let him.
Another interesting fact that I was not able to find on the internet but was in an Israeli newspaper that my mother translated to me, it can be for the mere fact that this was a scandal that Topaz committed during his young years that is why it isn’t posted on the internet. But it is a very juicy one. When he was 25 years old, he fell in love with a very religious 14 year old girl. Even when he was married and up until the day he died he secretly kept in touch with her and would meet her from time to time. He would call her from jail and ask her if she was still mad at him for the crime he committed. She called the press and broke this secret love affair of theirs. At the time when it occurred it could have ruined his career, and she never told anyone until his death. There was a very famous song that he sang about love, pain, and war. She told the Israeli press that she wrote it for him, 20 years ago. This story can be compared to so many other deaths. I feel the media caused it, and it is something to take into consideration because celebrities are people too. They make mistakes, and no one has the right, or authority to tell such a legend that they should not and will not perform anymore. Sadly, Israel has lost one of the greatest entertainers they have ever come to see on the Israeli stage.
Dudu Topaz, Israeli TV Star Dies in Prison. 20 Aug 2009. .
Haaretz, Ben; Correspondent. Dudu Topaz: The Rise and Fall of Israel’s Ratings King. 21 Aug 2009. .
Luvitch, Vered. Hundreds Attend Topaz Funeral. 21 Aug 2009.

Frank Mc Court

Frank Mc Court


Francis “Frank” McCourt was an Irish-American who became famous as a writer and a teacher. He was born in August 19, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the eldest of seven children, three of which died from consumption after the family moved to his mother’s native Limerick, Ireland in 1934. Mr. McCourt returned to the states at the age of 19 where he worked at Biltmore Hotel in New York City before he was drafted by the US Army for the Korean War in which he was stationed in Germany. After being discharged from the Korean War he returned to New York City to begin or rather continue his education as his public education in Ireland ended at age 13. He graduated from the New York University in 1957 where he used the G.I. Bill to enroll. He received his Master’s from Brooklyn College in 1967. He taught English at Mckee High School in Staten Island and at Stuveysant High School in New York City where he retired after 30 years. He also taught in the English Department at New York City College of Technology. In 1996 he published his memoir Angela’s Ashes for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for in 1997 and the National Book Critics Award in 1996. Angela’s Ashes depicts his impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland. In 1999 he published ‘Tis which is a continuation of Angela’s Ashes in which he writes about life as an American immigrant. In 2005 he published Teacher Man where he talks about his life as teacher, most notable the challenges his faced. He has been the recipient of such awards like: Award of Excellence and the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award (2002). He has also received an Honorary Degree from the University of Western Ontario. In May 2009 the media reported that Mr. McCourt had been treated for melanoma, a less common type of skin cancer, however it was noted that he was in remission and undergoing chemotherapy. Unfortunately he did not win the battle as he died on July 19, 2009 from the disease with complications from meningitis at a hospice in Manhattan at the age of 78. He survived by his third wife Ellen Frey McCourt, his daughter Margaret with whom he had with his first wife Alberta Small, his granddaughter Chiara, two grandsons Frank and Jack and his three brothers: Malachy, Michael and Alphie, and their families. He had two houses: one in New York City and one in Roxbury, Connecticut. References: Lev Grossman, Frank McCourt, Author of Angela’s Ashes, Dies, (Sunday, July 19, 2009),8599,1911633,00.html Jennifer Schuessler, Frank McCourt and the American Memoir, (July 25, 2009)


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