Jeff Goldblum Day celebrates Pittsburgh actor
'Life, uh...finds a way'Pittsburgh residents celebrate Jeff Goldblum on July 13

Jeff Goldblum Day celebrates Pittsburgh actor

On July 13, several hundred Steel City denizens honored the Pittsburgh native and Jewish actor with Goldblum-inspired t-shirts, trivia, games and movie screenings.

Jeff Goldblum, the iconic Hollywood star whose 1965 bar mitzvah took place in an Orthodox synagogue in Homestead, was feted in Pittsburgh once again, though this time there was no Torah reading. On July 13, several hundred Steel City denizens descended on the Artisan Collective, an East End haunt located at 5001 Penn Ave., for Jeff Goldblum Day.

Beginning at 11 a.m. fans of the Jewish actor flocked to the multistory building for activities including Jeff Goldblum trivia, Jeff Goldblum Pictionary and a Jeff Goldblum costume contest.

The daylong celebration, which brought together local businesses and several hundred Goldblum enthusiasts, was the brainchild of Artisan employees Matt McKelvey and Shauna Burd.

“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for years,” said McKelvey.

A large cut-out of Jeff Goldblum from his recent film “Thor” on display at Artisan. (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)
Nearly a decade and a half prior, the Council of the City of Pittsburgh, spearheaded by Councilman Douglas Shields, declared July 13, 2004, “Jeff Goldblum Day.”

For 14 years, “I kind of sat on that day and…finally it just came at the right time to put it all together,” McKelvey explained.

Plans began last month, with McKelvey and Burd designing T-shirts, buttons and other Goldblum emblazoned items for purchase. Drawings were even made for Goldblum inspired tattoos. (By noon on July 13, 22 people had registered to be forever linked in ink to the thespian.)

Melissa Ciccocioppo and Spaz at Artisan on Friday, July 13. The couple said they are big Goldblum fans and Ciccocioppo has several Goldblum-inspired objects in her home, including a shower curtain and door mat. (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)
Though she declined a permanent marking of Goldblum’s visage on her person, Melissa Ciccocioppo arrived at Artisan adorned in vast Goldblum attire. The Bloomfield resident’s T-shirt, necklace and earrings all displayed images of the celebrity whose role as Dr. Ian Malcolm, the mathematician in “Jurassic Park” (1993), largely introduced the West Mifflin North High School graduate to cinephiles of a certain generation.

In a movie where researchers and scientists collaborate on bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, “his character is the smartest of the group, and he’s just the most on point with everything and I just loved how he thought about stuff,” said Danielle Pratt, of Latrobe.

Anya Braggs, of Pittsburgh, similarly discovered Goldblum in “Jurassic Park,” but noted that the internet may possess the actor’s greatest performances.

“I just love watching him in interviews, because he’s awkward but in a really funny way,” said Sarah Gross, of Pittsburgh.

Following “Jurassic Park,” the Jewish performer, who four years after studying under Rabbi Marvin Pritzker at Homestead Hebrew Congregation received instruction from Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, went on to star in “Independence Day” (1996) and “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017). Combined, the two films grossed nearly $1 billion.

Shauna Burd, business manager at Artisan, and Krispy Brunell, pose with Jeff Goldblum paraphernalia. (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)
“He’s huge right now, [but] if you look back he’s been huge,” said Marie Lawton, of Plum. “I’ve loved the guy since ‘Earth Girls Are Easy’” (1988).

“We’re all drawn to him because he has that quirky charisma, that intangible unique quality,” said McKelvey.

“There is no one like Jeff Goldblum. He has made being himself an iconic thing to be and he’s kind of like everybody’s cool uncle,” echoed Burd.

There’s also the physical aspect to his aura, said Ciccocioppo. “He’s aging very gracefully, he’s a very attractive 65 year old man.”

While Goldblum’s presence at the event may have made some more crazed than a quirky scientist who mistakenly transforms himself into a bug-like creature — the actor’s character in “The Fly” (1986) — the luminary never showed. He was similarly unresponsive to multiple requests regarding the day, including those from Mayor Bill Peduto’s office and Artisan.

A sign outside Artisan on Jeff Goldblum day, Friday, July 13. (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)
But those who attended Jeff Goldblum Day knew better than to be blighted and instead heeded the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm: “If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh…well, there it is.”

Such was evidenced by Burd, whose comments should solace those shut out of the evening’s closing event — a secret showing at Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville where every one of the 83 seats had been sold.

“Were going to do this every year,” she said. “Next year we’re hoping it’s going to be a block party.” Like Malcolm eloquently stated, “I’m simply saying that life, uh…finds a way.” PJC

Lauren Rosenblatt contributed reporting to this story. Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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