Everything we know about Jack Black’s parents

Jack Black is the definition of multitalented. He is a musician, actor, comedian, and songwriter. You’ve seen him in Goosebumps, King Kong, and the Jumanji franchise. He forms one-half of the award-winning Grammy Award-winning comedy rock duo Tenacious D. Did I mention that Black is also a YouTuber running a channel dubbed Jablinski Games?

Without Black’s dad, Black might not be the entertainer he is today. When Black was thirteen, he convinced his dad to drive him to auditions. Black excelled at drama in school and knew that he could make a career out of it. Thomas Black, Jack’s dad, made it happen. 

Thomas Black converted to Judaism before marrying Black’s mom Judith Love Cohen

Judith Love Cohen enjoyed dancing and engineering. She studied engineering and danced away her free time with the Corps de Ballet in New York. Love met her first husband, Bernard Siegel, at engineering school. 

During their ten-year marriage, they welcomed three children: Neil, Howard, and Rachel. Before the couple’s divorce, Judith earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. 

Judith met Jack Black’s dad, Thomas Black, through dancing, though Jack isn’t sure whether the pair bonded over science or folk dancing. “They were both avid folk dancers,” Jack told GQ. “They may have met folk dancing.”

Thomas converted to Judaism before marrying Judith. Therefore, Jack grew up in a Jewish house that loved science, most of which went over his head. “I never really knew what the hell they were doing,” Jack continued. “I always imagined there’s a lot of mathematical equations on chalkboards and stuff.”

Jack’s father didn’t convert to Judaism to facilitate his marriage; he had a genuine interest in the religion. However, Thomas ditched Judaism soon after his divorce from Judith. Jack also swapped Judaism for atheism shortly after his bar mitzvah

“I don’t have any real spirituality in my life… but when music can take me to the highest heights, it’s almost like a spiritual feeling,” Jack said. 

Jack’s family ended up having a mixture of religions. Judith remarried and remained a Jew, and Thomas became an atheist and married a Christian. Jack talked to Bill McCleary about his family’s hectic festive season:

“We have four families because my mom and [my wife’s] mom celebrate Hanukkah with their new husbands. My dad and her dad celebrate Christmas with their new wives. So we’ve got four different families to hit. I figure that’s four days of Hanu-Christmas-kah.”

Jack’s parents had a tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce

Thomas and Judith loved each other and shared plenty in common, like their love for folk dancing. They had stable and well-earning jobs that allowed them to own a seven-bedroom house in California. 

On the flip side, they disagreed a lot. Jack told GQ that the couple lost government clearances for top-secret projects after arguing in the parking lot:

“They had a volatile relationship, and they would sometimes fight at the office. And one time they had a big fight in the parking lot, and they both lost their government clearances to work on secret projects. If there’s any instability, I guess that’s all it takes.”

When Black was ten, Thomas and Judith divorced. He moved with his dad to Culver City and regularly visited his mother. 

Judith married David A. Katz in the early 1980s. The couple remained together until Judith died in 2016. 

Jack became a rebellious teenager following his parents’ divorce

“There’s something about a divorce is that even if your parents still love you, the fact they can’t live with each other makes you feel there’s something wrong with you,” Black told The Guardian

The divorce tarnished an excellent childhood for Black. After ditching Judaism, Jack joined the wrong crowds. He did drugs from tobacco to cocaine, raced cars in Hollywood’s winding roads, and regularly skipped school. “I should have been put in jail,” Black said. 

Black supported his drug use by stealing money from his mom. He thought nothing of it until his friends used Judith’s credit card to buy cocaine. Judith and Thomas responded by sending Black to Poseidon School, a private school for troubled children of the rich and famous.

At Poseidon, Black worked with a therapist who helped him reform. Jack told Parade:

“I spilled my guts, telling him I felt guilty about stealing from my mom to get money for cocaine. It was a huge release and a huge relief. I left feeling euphoric, like an enormous weight had been lifted from me. It changed me.”

Black’s mom worked on the system that brought the Apollo 13 crew home

Judith was at the office the day of Jack Black’s birth. Cohen didn’t let the labor pains disrupt her work schedule: She carried the equation she’d been working on to the hospital. Later that day, she called work to announce Jack’s birth and the solution to her equation.

Love worked on the Abort-Guidance system that brought the Apollo 13 crew home. Her son, Neil Siegel, wrote on USC Vertibi:

“My mother usually considered her work on the Apollo program to be the highlight of her career. When disaster struck the Apollo 13 mission, it was the Abort-Guidance System that brought the astronauts home safely. Judy was there when the Apollo 13 astronauts paid a ‘thank you’ to the TRW facility in Redondo Beach.”

Judith tirelessly advocated for workplace equality. After retirement in the 1990s, she took to empowering young children to pursue any career they wished. Cohen and her husband David started a publishing company that published books titled You Can Be a Woman (insert career title). For instance, the first book she wrote was You Can Be a Woman Engineer.

David, who served as the books’ illustrator, and Love sold over 100,000 copies of these books.

Love died several weeks before her 83rd birthday, having lived a full life. Neil Siegel concluded:

“Her life was not perfect: Her younger sister, Rosalind, died young; there were two divorces; and she suffered the trauma of losing a child, my brother Howard, who also died young. But she was happy to have reached age 82 ½ without a single overnight visit to the hospital since age 6, and was busy every minute doing the things that she loved.”

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