Michael Freedland

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Michael Rodney Freedland (born 18 December 1934)[1] is a British biographer, journalist and broadcaster.

Beginning as a journalist on local papers in 1951, he was on the staff of the Daily Sketch for a year before turning freelance in 1961.[1] His broadcasting career began in the following year, and he has written for The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator, The Guardian, The Observer and The Economist.[1]

As a biographer, he has specialised in Hollywood and its entertainers, plus some prominent British subjects. His book on Al Jolson, originally published in 1971, reached its eighth edition in 2007.[2] Freedland has written forty books, mainly biographies. He has written and presented programmes for Radio 2 in the UK on his subjects, including Elvis Presley,[3] Bob Hope[4] and Judy Garland.[5] Asked about what to include in an individual's life history, the immediate concern was the Garland book, he said in 2010: "I am a great believer in telling it as it was. I am very certain of the need for warts and all. How else can you tell a full rounded story?"[6]

Freedland's books have included more general histories. Witch Hunt in Hollywood: McCarthyism's War On Tinseltown is an account of the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy and (the not directly connected) House Un-American Activities Committee. In Freedland's view: "For Communist read Jew. The hearings ... were as much (some would say more) antisemitic as anti-Communist. Hollywood was chosen for the attack because of the great publicity value the movie capital offered. It was also a great opportunity to get at the Jews of Hollywood."[7][8]

Freedland is Jewish.[9] His radio show, You Don't Have To Be Jewish, began in 1971,[10] and was gradually extended in length. Initially broadcast by BBC Radio London, later LBC, it ran for 24 years.[11] He was married for 52 years[12] to Sara Hocherman,[13] who died in 2012.[14] One of the couple's daughters, Fiona, was a solicitor specialising in medical negligence claims[15] Their middle child, daughter Dani, is a successful charity fundraiser. while their son is the journalist and thriller writer Jonathan Freedland.[16] Like his son, Michael Freedland is a regular contributor to The Jewish Chronicle. His Confessions of a Serial Biographer, an autobiography, appeared in 2005.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Michael Freedland, Esq", Debrett's
  2. ^ Michael Freedland "You ain't heard nothing' yet: How one sentence uttered by Al Jolson changed the movie industry", The Independent, 28 September 2007
  3. ^ Michael Freedland "I knew Elvis", The Guardian, 29 December 2009
  4. ^ The Bob Hope Trial, BBC Radio 2, February–March 2008
  5. ^ The Judy Garland Trail, BBC Radio 2, October–November 2008
  6. ^ "Interview with Michael Freedland, author of new Garland biography", judygarlandnews.com, 18 December 2010
  7. ^ Michael Freedland "Hunting communists? They were really after Jews", The Jewish Chronicle, 6 August 2009
  8. ^ Gerald Isaaman "McCarthy’s bad guy role in a dark Hollywood drama", Camden New Journal, 20 August 2009 See also Joel Finler's letter "McCarthy’s witch-hunt", Camden New Journal, 1 October 2009
  9. ^ Levy, Elkan (2013). The Jewish year book. 5773-5774. London Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell. p. 331. ISBN 9780853039051. 
  10. ^ "You Don’t Have to Be Jewish", Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA.com), 9 November 1976
  11. ^ Michael Freedland "On the air with Topol and Golda", The Jewish Chronicle, 6 June 2012
  12. ^ Michael Freedland "Anything but scrambled eggs: how I learned to cook at 78", The Guardian, 12 April 2013
  13. ^ Jonathan Freedland "Sara's Gift", The Guardian, 12 February 2005 (extract from Jacob's Gift)
  14. ^ Sandy Rashty "Death of ex- JC junior page editor", The Jewish Chronicle, 12 May 2010
  15. ^ Robin Oppenheim "Fiona Freedland obituary", theguardian.com, 2 September 2014
  16. ^ Jonathan Freedland "In death – as in life – my mother was rescued by love", The Guardian, 18 May 2012

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