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.
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.)
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.
“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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.