Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal
Naomi Achs

(1946-03-15) March 15, 1946 (age 76)
Alma materBarnard College (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
  • Screenwriter
  • director
(m. 1965; div. 1977)

(m. 1977; div. 2009)

Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (née Achs; born March 15, 1946) is an American screenwriter and director. She is the mother of actor and actress Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Early life and education

Foner was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the daughter of doctors Ruth (née Silbowitz; 1920–1968) and Samuel Achs (1919–2014). Her parents were both of Jewish ancestry.[1][2][3][4] Her aunt was Freda (Silbowitz) Hertz (1915–2013), a lawyer.[5][6][7] She was raised in a family of "high-achieving New York Jews."[8][9][10] Her Ashkenazi Jewish grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe (Latvia and Poland).[11][12][13]

She attended Barnard College in New York City, graduating with a BA degree in English. She later earned an MA degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University.


She has written the screenplays for several feature films, including Running on Empty (for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and won a Golden Globe Award for the same category), Losing Isaiah, and most recently Bee Season. She was the Naomi referenced in the line "...what about Naomi?" at the end of each Love of Chair segment of The Electric Company, where she was an associate producer for two seasons.

In 2013, she made her directorial debut with Very Good Girls, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival before attaining online and theatrical distribution in the U.S. with Tribeca Film. She collaborated on a script for an American-Chinese co-production titled Moon Flower of Flying Tigers,[14] which was to be co-produced by Ann An and Paula Wagner[15] and based upon the book by Gao Demin.[16]

Personal life

Naomi Foner's first husband was Eric Foner, a historian and Columbia University professor, whom she married in 1965 and divorced in 1977.[17] Her second marriage, 1977–2009, was to film director Stephen Gyllenhaal.[18] They have collaborated professionally and have two children together, actors Maggie Gyllenhaal (b. 1977) and Jake Gyllenhaal (b. 1980).


  1. ^ Josephs, Susan (November 10, 2005). "'Bee' Spells Family D-y-s-f-u-n-c-t-i-o-n-a-l". Jewish Journal. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Schleier, Curt (July 24, 2014). "Naomi Foner on 'Very Good Girls' and Her Famous Children". The Forward. Retrieved May 21, 2018. Naomi Foner: "I certainly think of myself as Jewish and I tried to bring up my children think of themselves as Jews."
  3. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (July 23, 2014). "Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in SundanceTV's "The Honorable Woman"". Jewish Journal. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Klug, Lisa (August 15, 2015). "The year of Jake Gyllenhaal". The Times of Israel. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths ACHS, ROBERT". The New York Times. 2005-07-03. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  6. ^ "DR. RUTH ACHS, 48, PEDIATRICIAN,DIES". The New York Times. 1968-09-29. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  7. ^ Freda Silbowitz Obituary retrieved 3/8/2015
  8. ^ Vaucher, Andréa R. (October 31, 2004). "Writing Her Way Back to the Family Business". The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  9. ^ "A New York Times Sponsored Archive: Bee Season". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Bloom, Nate (October 20, 2011). "Jewish Stars". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., PBS, April 22, 2012
  12. ^ Christie, Janet (June 22, 2014). "Maggie Gyllenhaal: Acting for self-discovery". The Scotsman. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (July 2, 2014). "Maggie Gyllenhaal on her new role in BBC2 spy drama The Honourable Woman". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-06-18. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "Moon Flower of Flying Tigers". Retrieved Jul 26, 2019 – via
  15. ^ "Moon Flower of Flying Tigers to Hit Screen – All China Women's Federation". Retrieved Jul 26, 2019.
  16. ^ "Origin of the Story about "Moon Flower of Flying Tigers"_四毛高德敏_新浪博客". Retrieved Jul 26, 2019.
  17. ^ Metzger, Linda; Straub, Deborah A.; Gareffa, Peter M. (Jun 26, 1984). Contemporary Authors New Revision Series: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Non-Fiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, M. Gale / Cengage Learning. ISBN 9780810319417. Retrieved Jul 26, 2019 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal Says His Parents' Divorce 'Allowed Me to Be More Honest with Myself'". People. Retrieved Jul 26, 2019.