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 59)
OccupationActress, author, columnist, comedian
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Jeff 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]

Personal life[edit]

Gurwitch was born to a Jewish family[6] 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 has one son and lives in Los Angeles. She has written and given talks on how her southern Jewish roots have influenced her family life.[7][8][9][10] 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.[11]


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[12] at The Geffen Playhouse, the West Coast Premiere of Go Back to Where You Are[13] by David Greenspan at The Odyssey, the West Coast premier of Women in Jeopardy[14] at EST Santa Barbara, productions with LA Theaterworks including Sixteen Wounded with Omar Metwally, Our Lady of 121 Street[15] opposite Laurence Fishburn and Adam's Rib[16] 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.

Television projects[edit]

Gurwitch co-wrote two episodes of the 1980s children's animated series ThunderCats.[17][18] 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.[19]

Gurwitch has appeared on TV series including Dexter, The Cleaner, Medium, State of Mind, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, Seinfeld and Boston Legal.[20]

Film projects[edit]

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."[21]

In 2007 Gurwitch wrote, produced, directed, and appeared in the documentary film Fired!.[22] 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.[20]

Literary projects[edit]

She is the author of four books, most recently, the essay collection, Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To (Penguin Random House) which O Magazine called "a vivacious confessional".[23] Her other books are I See You Made an Effort,[24] which was a New York Times bestseller[25] 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.[26] Gurwitch adapted this book as a solo show, first produced at the Skylight Theater[27] and then toured nationally in 2017; You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up (coauthored with Jeff Kahn) which she and Kahn turned into a play that has run in over 30 cities, and Fired! a documentary which she wrote, produced and starred in and premiered as a Showtime Comedy Special[28] and radio play for LA TheaterWorks. Time Magazine featured Gurwitch and Fired! in their annual 10 Ideas That Are Changing the World.[29]

Her essays and satire have been published in The New Yorker - Shouts & Murmurs (Please Unsubscribe]),[30] The New York Times (Death Without Dignity]),[31] Wall Street Journal (After 'Wonder Woman,' Let's Cast More Women in Bit Parts Too],[32] The Los Angeles Times (Annabelle Gurwitch on family — the one you're born with, and the one on your book cover),[33] McSweeney's (Book Publicity in the Age of Trump),[34] O Magazine (The Conversation You Need to Have with Anyone You Love),[35] (I Was My Mother's Drug Mule),[36] and Lena Dunham's Lenny Newsletter, amongst other publications. She was a regular commentator for NPR's All Things Considered[37] and Day to Day on KPCC.[38] She frequently makes appearances on NPR including on The Moth,[39] Ask Me Another[40] and Marketplace.[41] An excerpt from Wherever You Go, There They Are about how multi-level marketing companies exploit the need for community to recruit female sales associates was featured on the website in 2017. Her frequent media appearances include commentaries on The PBS News Hour,[42][43] Real Time with Bill Maher,[44][45] CBS Early Show, and The Today Show.

Gurwitch's memoir, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories From the Edge of 50, was published by Blue Rider Press on March 7, 2014.[46] Gurwitch talked about her experiences writing the book on the podcast GluckRadio, starring executive life coach Errol Gluck.[47]

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.[48] Gurwitch also based a number of live performances on the Fired! theme, and in 2007 completed the Fired! documentary film.[22]

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

Her essays have appeared in two anthologies: Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All[49] and Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled.[50]

Gurwitch and husband Jeff Kahn signed a six-figure deal with Crown to publish a memoir. The book, published in February 2010, is You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up. The two adapted the book into a theatrical production, in association with Off-Broadway Booking.

In November 2012 Gurwitch published an eBook short called Autumn Leaves with Zola Books that recounts an erotic fantasy she once had about one of the staff members at an Apple Genius Bar.[51] The short is included in her memoir I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 which was published March 6, 2014.

In April 2017, Gurwitch published Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To.[52][53][54]


  • 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


  1. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - May 18, 2014 - 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. ^ Jewish Journal: "Comedian Annabelle Gurwitch on 50 being the new 50" by Naomi Pfeffermanin retrieved June 14, 2015
  7. ^ NAGLER MILLER, Robert (April 10, 2017). "Shalom y'all: Bittersweet family tales from the Deep South". The Jewish News of Northern California.
  8. ^ "We Are Family". Unorthodox.
  9. ^ UJA, JCC Greenwich (November 13, 2014). "Annabelle Gurwitch to Make an Effort in Greenwich". Greenwich Patch.
  10. ^ "17th Annual Spring Lecture Featuring Annabelle Gurwitch" (PDF). The Charlotte Jewish News. March 2015.
  11. ^ The Coronavirus Saved My Life New York Times. retrieved November 14, 2020
  12. ^ Verini, Bob (November 28, 2012). "Coney Island Christmas".
  13. ^ Greenspan, David (July 2016). "Go Back to Where You Are".
  14. ^ Donelan, Charles (December 9, 2015). "Women in Jeopardy! Big Laughs and Banana Cake at Ensemble". Santa Barbara Independent.
  15. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (January 19, 2004). "Fishburne, Gurwitch, Peña Lead Los Angeles Cast of Our Lady of 121st Street, Feb. 4-8".
  16. ^ Kanin, Garson (January 2005). "Adam's Rib". LA Theatre Works.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Schechner, Sam. "Will 'Bright Green' Bring Discovery The Long Green?". WSJ. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Annabelle Gurwitch on IMDb
  21. ^ Company, The Meow Mix. "Annabelle Gurwitch and Her Cat Stinky to Host Meow TV(TM); First Television Programming Created Specifically For Cats (And the People that Love them)".
  22. ^ a b A 2007 documentary film by Annabelle Gurwitch, Fired! on IMDb
  23. ^ "Wherever You Go, There They Are". Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  24. ^ "Enough With The "Aging Gracefully" Idea. It's All About "Aging With A Vengeance."". Prevention. September 11, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Armao, Mark (August 25, 2015). "Thurber Prize for American Humor Announces First All-Female Trio of Finalists". Wall Street Journal.
  27. ^ AV, LARB (May 26, 2015). "Annabelle Gurwitch's "I See You Made an Effort" Adapted for Theater". Los Angeles Review of Books.
  28. ^ Fired!, retrieved January 23, 2018
  29. ^ Takeuchi Cullen, Lisa (March 24, 2006). "10 Ideas That Are Changing The World" (PDF). Time Magazine.
  30. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (November 16, 2015). "Please Unsubscribe". The New Yorker.
  31. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 10, 2015). "Death Without Dignity". New York Times.
  32. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 14, 2017). "After 'Wonder Woman,' Let's Cast More Women in Bit Parts Too". Wall Street Journal.
  33. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 12, 2017). "Annabelle Gurwitch on family — the one you're born with, and the one on your book cover". LA Times.
  34. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 21, 2017). "Book Publicity in the Age of Trump". McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
  35. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (May 3, 2016). "The Conversation You Need to Have with Anyone You Love". Oprah.
  36. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (April 21, 2017). "I Was My Mother's Drug Mule".
  37. ^ Del Barco, Mandalit (March 31, 2014). "In Hollywood, 50 Is The New 80: What Happens When 'It Girls' Get Old". NPR.
  38. ^ Cohen, Alex (September 6, 2016). "The Brood: How parents deal with a newly empty nest".
  39. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (July 25, 2017). "Members of the Council".
  40. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (June 16, 2017). "Don't Treat Me Like Family".
  41. ^ Ryssdal, Kai (May 15, 2017). "Annabelle Gurwitch is afraid of the gig economy".
  42. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (February 21, 2017). "When you know your aging parents have found home". PBS News Hour.
  43. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle (December 1, 2017). "Binge-watching can't be good for you — but is it really that bad?". PBS News Hour.
  44. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher". Real Time with Bill Maher. April 25, 2014.
  45. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch on Family". Real Time with Bill Maher. May 12, 2017.
  46. ^ "I See You Made an Effort Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50". 2014. Penguin. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  47. ^ "GluckRadio".
  48. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle. Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed. Touchstone; 2006. ISBN 978-0-7432-8985-6
  49. ^ 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
  50. ^ Friedman, Jon. Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped, and Canceled Villard; 2009. ISBN 978-0-345-50096-0
  51. ^ "50 Shades of Annabelle". Web2Carz. 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  52. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  53. ^ Gurwitch, Annabelle. "Annabelle Gurwitch on family — the one you're born with, and the one on your book cover". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  54. ^ "Annabelle Gurwitch Explores Family Ties". Atlanta Jewish Times. Retrieved April 29, 2018.

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