Mazie Cohen’s Son

By Kay Lorraine

I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but in the Jewish community in Columbus, Ohio, you are never really anybody on your own – you are just somebody’s kid. Even if you are 60 years old, you’re invariably introduced as Saul Irving’s son, David. Keeping this in mind, some of you know that I have been close friends with singer / pianist Michael Feinstein since he was in high school. I was the singer, he was my occasional accompanist. Between 1973 and 1975, we used to perform regularly at Heritage House (the Jewish old folks center in Columbus).

Now pay attention here or none of this will make any sense. At the time, my name was Kay Cohen because I was married to Bernie “the attorney” Cohen. (The less said about that, the better.) Michael Feinstein’s mother is the former Mazie Cohen, a shirttail relative of Bernie, whom she disliked intensely from childhood (showing excellent judgment on her part). Consequently, whenever we were introduced at Heritage House, they always introduced us as “Mazie Cohen’s son Michael and his lovely wife Kay.” No matter how many times we tried to correct them, we always got the same introduction. After a while, we just gave up and went with the flow.

Years later, I was divorced, living with Brad in Chicago, and I visited Michael, who was living in California, working for Ira Gershwin. One day Michael announced that he was headed to the Los Angeles Jewish Home, where he played piano at lunch maybe once a week. It would be just like Michael to continue that tradition – he has always been a generous giver. “Did I want to come along and do our old act?” Absolutely. We could trot out “Sunrise, Sunset,” and “Bei Mir Bist du Schoen,” at the drop of a hat.

We arrived and Michael took a minute to set up an extra mic (and obviously slip a note to someone). When it came time to go onstage, we were proudly introduced by the director of the home as, “Mazie Cohen’s son Michael and his lovely wife Kay.”

Nobody got the joke but me, but that is so typically Michael.