Annabelle Gurwitch

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Annabelle Gurwitch
Gurwitch smiling
Gurwitch at the Annapolis Book Festival in 2018
Born (1961-11-04) November 4, 1961 (age 62)
  • Actress
  • author
  • columnist
  • comedian
Years active1984–present
SpouseJeff Kahn (1996–2019)

Annabelle Gurwitch (born November 4, 1961) is an American author,[1] comedic actress,[2] television host most recognizable from her stint as hostess on Dinner and a Movie on TBS,[3] and activist associated with environmental issues[4] and secular humanism.[5] She also was recognized as one of the 100 Influential Women in Oncology by OncoDaily.[6]

Early life[edit]

Gurwitch was born to a Jewish family[7] in Mobile, Alabama, and grew up in Florida, graduating from Miami Beach High School in 1980. While there, she took acting classes with Jay W. Jensen. After high school, she attended The Experimental Theatre Wing at New York University.


Gurwitch began working as an actress Off-Broadway in New York City, including productions with Theater for a Young Audience at Henry Street Settlement, The Public Theater, the 20th Anniversary production of Uncommon Women and Others at Lucille Lortel. Her first long-running television role was as Gina Daniels on The Guiding Light in the mid 1980s.

Gurwitch's theater credits include: The World Premiere of Donald Margulies' A Coney Island Christmas[8] at The Geffen Playhouse, the West Coast Premiere of Go Back to Where You Are[9] by David Greenspan at The Odyssey, the West Coast premier of Women in Jeopardy[10] at EST Santa Barbara, productions with LA Theaterworks including Sixteen Wounded with Omar Metwally, Our Lady of 121 Street[11] opposite Laurence Fishburn and Adam's Rib[12] with Adam Arkin.

Her performance, off Broadway at the Joe Quintero Theater, in the title role of Murray Mednick's Joe and Betty garnered her a place in The New York Times "Top Ten Performances in Theatre of the Year 2002." She also appeared in the Los Angeles Times "Top Ten Performances of the Year in Theatre 2001."

She developed her solo show based on I See You Made an Effort, in workshops at the All for One Solo Fest, NY and Skylight Theater, Los Angeles, in 2017. It was featured in the subscription offerings at The Scottsdale Center of Performing Arts and The Temple Theater, at The Des Moines Performing Arts Center, amongst other touring locations. Her live appearances include: The Moth, Joe's Pub, House of Speakeasy, New York Comedy Festival, and the Thurber Spring Lecture Series.


Gurwitch co-wrote two episodes of the 1980s children's animated series ThunderCats.[13] Gurwitch and Paul Gilmartin were the original hosts of the TBS show Dinner and a Movie, which combined cooking instruction with the viewing of a feature film. Gurwitch served as co-host for six years, departing in 2002.

Other television hosting work included stints on Not Necessarily the News, Syfy's The Dream Team with Annabelle and Michael, VH1's Best Of..., series, Style Network's You're Invited, and Dot Comedy. She was the host of Wa$ted! on Planet Green for three seasons.[14]

Gurwitch has appeared on TV series including Miami Vice, 'Dexter, The Cleaner, Medium, State of Mind, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, Seinfeld and Boston Legal.


In 2002 Gurwitch appeared as the host of Meow TV, along with her cat Stinky, a show distributed on CD inside bags of Meow Mix. Meow TV presented itself as "Television By Cats, For Cats."[15]

In 2007 Gurwitch wrote, produced, directed, and appeared in the documentary film Fired!.[citation needed] It documents the experiences of twenty-five people, including Gurwitch, who were fired from various jobs. They recount their firings through interviews, skits, comedy routines, and filmed excerpts from the previously produced stage play of the same title. David Cross, Jeff Garlin, Bob Odenkirk and Anne Meara were all featured in addition to UAW workers, former US Secretary of Labor Bob Reich, economist Ben Stein and many other job seekers. The film was played at the US Department of Labor and labor film festivals around the country including the DC Labor FilmFest.

Gurwitch's other films include Melvin Goes to Dinner and The Shaggy Dog.[citation needed]

Literary work[edit]

She is the author of five books, most recently, You're Leaving When? which was published in March 2021. The book comically details her awkward and chaotic encounters with an eccentric French boarder. These encounters came after her decision to start renting bedrooms in her house to boarders to avoid having to sell it after her divorce.[16] In April 2017, Gurwitch published Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To.[17][18][19][20]

I See You Made an Effort, published in 2014,[21] was a New York Times bestseller[22] and Thurber Prize for American Humor Writing finalist. The year Gurwitch was a finalist for the Thurber Prize marked the first time the three finalists were all female.[23] Gurwitch adapted this book as a solo show, first produced at the Skylight Theater[24] and then toured nationally in 2017. Included in this book is Autumn Leaves, a 2012 ebook Gurwitch published with Zola Books that recounts an erotic fantasy she once had about one of the staff members at an Apple Genius Bar.[25]

Gurwitch once worked for Woody Allen, but was fired during an encounter in which he said that she looked "retarded" among other insults. In 2006 she published a book of essays inspired by that dismissal called Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed which subsequently became the Fired! documentary film.[26]

Gurwitch and then-husband Jeff Kahn signed a six-figure deal with Crown to publish a memoir called You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up. The two adapted the book into a theatrical production, in association with Off-Broadway Booking.


Her essays and satire have been published in The New Yorker,[27] The New York Times,[28] Wall Street Journal,[29] The Los Angeles Times,[18] McSweeney's,[30] O Magazine,[31] among other publications. She was a regular commentator for NPR's All Things Considered.[32] She frequently makes appearances on NPR including on The Moth,[33] Ask Me Another[34] and Marketplace.[35]

Gurwitch is a contributing writer for NPR's Day to Day, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Nation, and she has written for Child, Publishers Weekly, Marie Claire, More, Men's Health, Glamour, Cooking Light, Premiere, Penthouse and Los Angeles.

Her essays have appeared in two anthologies: Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All[36] and Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Gurwitch has one child[38] and lives in Los Angeles.[39] She has written and given talks on how her southern Jewish roots have influenced her family life.[40][41][42][43] On November 14, 2020, the New York Times published her opinion piece "The Coronavirus Saved My Life", describing how she went in for a coronavirus test and came out with a stage 4 metastatic lung cancer diagnosis.[44]


  • Fired! : tales of the canned, canceled, downsized and dismissed, New York: Touchstone, 2006. ISBN 9780743289856, OCLC 974417816
  • You say tomato, I say shut up : a love story, New York: Crown Publishers, 2010. ISBN 9780307463777, OCLC 419797211
  • I see you made an effort : compliments, indignities, and survival stories from the edge of 50, New York : Blue Rider Press, 2014. ISBN 9780399166181, OCLC 952009094
  • Wherever You Go, There They Are: stories about my family you might relate to. Penguin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780399574894, OCLC 994426415
  • You're Leaving When?: Adventures in Downward Mobility, Counterpoint Press, 2021. ISBN 9781640094475


  1. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - May 18, 2014 - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Newman, Judith (March 21, 2014). "I'm Not Getting Better, I'm Getting Older: Annabelle Gurwitch's New Book Asks Questions About Aging". NY Times.
  3. ^ Meisler, Andy (October 20, 1996). "Mixing Things Up With a Laugh". New York Times.
  4. ^ "What Happens to Our Garbage". OWN. April 22, 2009.
  5. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch – Openly Secular". Richard Dawkins Foundation. February 9, 2017. Archived from the original on January 16, 2018.
  6. ^ "100 Influential Women in Oncology: Key Opinion Leaders to follow on Social Media in 2023". OncoDaily.
  7. ^ Jewish Journal: "Comedian Annabelle Gurwitch on 50 being the new 50" by Naomi Pfeffermanin retrieved June 14, 2015
  8. ^ Verini, Bob (November 28, 2012). "Coney Island Christmas".
  9. ^ Greenspan, David (July 2016). "Go Back to Where You Are". Archived from the original on September 30, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  10. ^ Donelan, Charles (December 9, 2015). "Women in Jeopardy! Big Laughs and Banana Cake at Ensemble". Santa Barbara Independent.
  11. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (January 19, 2004). "Fishburne, Gurwitch, Peña Lead Los Angeles Cast of Our Lady of 121st Street, Feb. 4-8".
  12. ^ Kanin, Garson (January 2005). "Adam's Rib". LA Theatre Works.
  13. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'".
  14. ^ Schechner, Sam. "Will 'Bright Green' Bring Discovery The Long Green?". WSJ. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  15. ^ " - 'Meow TV' to premiere this month - May. 21, 2003". CNN. May 21, 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  16. ^ del Barco, Mandalit (March 7, 2021). "Annabelle Gurwitch's Mid-Life Maelstrom: Divorce, Cancer, 'Downward Mobility'". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  17. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 12, 2017). "Annabelle Gurwitch on family — the one you're born with, and the one on your book cover". LA Times.
  19. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch Explores Family Ties". Atlanta Jewish Times. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  20. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 20, 2017). "Wherever You Go, There They Are". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  21. ^ "Enough With The "Aging Gracefully" Idea. It's All About "Aging With A Vengeance."". Prevention. September 11, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  22. ^ Newman, Judith (March 21, 2014). "Annabelle Gurwitch's New Book Asks Questions About Aging". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  23. ^ Armao, Mark (August 25, 2015). "Thurber Prize for American Humor Announces First All-Female Trio of Finalists". Wall Street Journal.
  24. ^ AV, LARB (May 26, 2015). "Annabelle Gurwitch's "I See You Made an Effort" Adapted for Theater". Los Angeles Review of Books.
  25. ^ "50 Shades of Annabelle". Web2Carz. 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  26. ^ A 2007 documentary film by Annabelle Gurwitch, Fired! at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  27. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (November 16, 2015). "Please Unsubscribe". The New Yorker.
  28. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 10, 2015). "Death Without Dignity". New York Times.
  29. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 14, 2017). "After 'Wonder Woman,' Let's Cast More Women in Bit Parts Too". Wall Street Journal.
  30. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 21, 2017). "Book Publicity in the Age of Trump". McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
  31. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (May 3, 2016). "The Conversation You Need to Have with Anyone You Love". Oprah.
  32. ^ Del Barco, Mandalit (March 31, 2014). "In Hollywood, 50 Is The New 80: What Happens When 'It Girls' Get Old". NPR.
  33. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (July 25, 2017). "Members of the Council".
  34. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 16, 2017). "Don't Treat Me Like Family".
  35. ^ Ryssdal, Kai (May 15, 2017). "Annabelle Gurwitch is afraid of the gig economy".
  36. ^ Buchanan, Andrea. Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All Simon Spotlight Entertainment; 2009. ISBN 978-1-4169-4876-6
  37. ^ Friedman, Jon. Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled Villard; 2009. ISBN 978-0-345-50096-0
  38. ^ "The Worst of Times w/ Annabelle Gurwitch". Go Ask Ali. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  39. ^ Seriously Entertaining: Annabelle Gurwitch on "Long, Strange Trip", retrieved July 6, 2023
  40. ^ NAGLER MILLER, Robert (April 10, 2017). "Shalom y'all: Bittersweet family tales from the Deep South". The Jewish News of Northern California.
  41. ^ "We Are Family". Unorthodox.
  42. ^ UJA, JCC Greenwich (November 13, 2014). "Annabelle Gurwitch to Make an Effort in Greenwich". Greenwich Patch.
  43. ^ "17th Annual Spring Lecture Featuring Annabelle Gurwitch" (PDF). The Charlotte Jewish News. March 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  44. ^ The Coronavirus Saved My Life New York Times. retrieved November 14, 2020

External links[edit]