Grandma kept in dark over Ron's 'rum' career

FOR a man who has appeared in more than 2,000 adult movies, you could expect Ron Jeremy to have a bit of an ego.

However, the native New Yorker, with his receding hairline, wide moustache - and ever-so-slightly large paunch - is anything but.

Self-deprecating, fast-talking and full of fun, it is not hard to see why the 61-year-old is also a top-selling comedian, as well as making a name for himself in numerous television series and films.

And his autobiography was a New York Times best-seller.

Ron is the self-declared "hardest working man in showbiz".

It could be down to a grounded childhood in the New York borough of Queens, the son of educated Jewish parents.

Not that it stopped his parents naturally showing concern when he began his adult movie career in the late 1970s.

"They knew I was doing what I called 'nudey movies'," Ron told me on a visit to Manchester to promote his award-winning super-premium rum brand Ron de Jeremy.

"My grandma Rose did too - well, she thought I was just taking my clothes off for the part, but she didn't know the half of it.

"We felt it was best if she was kept in the dark about it."

But he had not planned for a career in the adult entertainment business.

Ron earned a bachelor's degree in education and theatre and a masters in special education from Queens College and taught special education classes in the New York City area.

A then-girlfriend submitted his photograph to Playgirl magazine, which led to his amazingly successful career.

Born Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, he changed his name professionally after his grandma was pestered by people calling her apartment, as she was listed in the telephone directory as 'R Hyatt'.

She even had to move out for a while.

"My grandma spoke good Yiddish - if she didn't want me to know what she was saying, she would use it," he said.

"It always makes me laugh - when Jews curse, as my grandma did after what happened with all the phone calls, it always sounds like they are telling a story."

Life has not always been full of beautiful women, glitz and glamour for Ron.

His late mother fought Parkinson's disease, beginning when Ron was eight, undergoing experimental cryogenic surgery.

And she was already confined to a nursing home by the time he entered the adult entertainment industry.

Ron recalled: "My mother was the most wonderful woman. She worked as a spy, decoder and cryptographer during the Second World War and served in the OSS in Europe."

The Office of Strategic Services was an American wartime intelligence agency and a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Ron's father, Arnold, also served in the war, fighting the Japanese. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Ron's brother, Larry.

Ron said: "Mom was always the one who understood me. People would ask her about me and she would say, 'Ronnie dances to a different drummer'. That was her favourite expression."

Ron has also appeared in music videos - last year his parody of Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball video garnered more than nine million internet hits.

He also served as a consultant on films such as 91/2 Weeks and Boogie Nights and has appeared in many American television shows.

Ron said: "I had intended to do adult movies for a while, then go into something more mainstream.

"But the roles just kept coming and I love being a 'ham' on camera. I do prefer the more mainstream stuff, though.

"Doing the straight roles makes me feel elite - like a proper actor.

"I have done 2,000 adult films, so people may think, 'Gee, it's a hell of a time to complain about it now'."

There are many Jewish men in the adult entertainment industry, but most, unlike Ron and fellow Jewish performer James Deen, are producers and directors.

Ron, who lives in Los Angeles, explained: "Jewish men like to be the centre of attention - we like a universal sense of approval."

Ron, whose life was told on the big screen in the 2001 documentary Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, also believes he has helped Jewish guys 'get the girl'.

He said: "Years ago you would see the handsome cheerleader get the girl - and you would expect that. Nobody every thought a little Jewish nebech such as me would.

"So Jewish guys looked at me and thought, 'Hey, there's hope for us all'.

"Funnily enough, the more I gained weight, the more I was in demand. I guess producers felt guys could relate to someone chunky, too!"

He was not raised in a religious home, but the Hyatt family enjoyed Friday night dinners and marked the High Holy Days.

Ron's brother, Larry, lived in Israel for a short time before returning to America and his sister taught Hebrew.

"I have not been to Israel - I really should go and I am planning to," he explained. "I did actually Fast on Yom Kippur, which I don't always do.

"I don't belong to a temple - if I do go, it's generally for the coffee and Danishes afterwards!"

Ron was approached to endorse the Ron de Jeremy rum by One Eyed Spirits.

The seven-year-old rum has been rafted by Cuban master distiller Francisco 'Don Pancho' Fernandez, in Panama.

Ron explained: "They came to me because 'ron' means rum in Spanish.

"I guess they wanted a famous Ron - Ronnie Reagan is dead, Ronald McDonald makes burgers and Ron Howard makes movies, so that left me.

"I have endorsed everything and those products have always made money. It is a natural progression to go into a larger industry. I am not a big drinker, being Jewish."

Despite having film 'relationships' with thousands of women, Ron has never married, although he admitted he had come close a couple of times, especially with one particular lady.

Ron - who made headlines in 2005 when he was invited to address the Oxford Union - said: "She would have converted. My brother's wife converted and she is more into Judaism than us.

"We split up, but we took joint custody of our turtle."

© 2014 Jewish Telegraph