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About Michael Takiff

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The great-great-great-great-great grandson of the legendary Hasidic sage Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, writer/actor/comedian/singer/dancer/historian Michael Takiff graduated from Yale (cum laude with distinction in History) before coming to New York to be an actor. He studied classical singing, then spent ten years touring the country as a stand-up comic. Among fellow comedians he was known for his intelligent, original material and his theatrical presentation.


Michael is the author and performer of two works of solo theater, Black Tie: A Son’s Journey through the Death and Life of His Father and Jews, God, and History (Not Necessarily in That Order), both directed by Tony nominee Brian Lane Green. When Michael staged Jews, God, and History at The Flea, in Manhattan, in 2022, DirectorTalk raved that he “melds his prodigious intelligence and expert showmanship to illuminate the darkest (and most tender) moments in the life and mind of the modern American Jew.”

Recent stage roles include Caesar in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Workshoppe), Brutus in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (Worlds Elsewhere Theater Company), and Papa in Goldberg’s Kaddish (New York Theater Festival), as well as roles in new work by Richard Mover, Percy Reale, and Claire Crowley. Recent feature film work includes principal roles in Beach Town Maidens and Gone Without a Past, both scheduled for release in 2024. In New York this summer he is scheduled to play Adolf Eichmann in David Serrero's new play, The Trial of Adolf Eichmann. Also this summer, he will be shooting another feature film, The Rabbit Hole. 

Michael has authored numerous books, including A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told by Those Who Know Him (Yale University Press). AND Magazine called A Complicated Man “the best oral history book ever written about a President of the United States.” A Complicated Man was awarded First Prize, Biography/Autobiography, by the Los Angeles Book Festival.


Michael’s previous book, Brave Men, Gentle Heroes: American Fathers and Sons in World War II and Vietnam (HarperColllins/Wm. Morrow), was praised by Kirkus as “a superb oral history [that] would do Studs Terkel proud.” The Washington Post named Brave Men a “Critics’ Pick.”


Michael’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Salon, The Nation,, and HuffingtonPost. He has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC and holds the distinction of being the only person in Hardball history not to have been interrupted by Chris Matthews.

Active as a ghost-writer and editor, Michael has taught memoir-writing in New York City, where he lives with his wife and son. He doesn't believe in reincarnation, but hopes that if he's wrong, his next life includes playing center field for the Mets.

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