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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Discovering Gertrude Berg

Gertrude Berg was the writer, creator and star of The Goldbergs. Running on radio from 1929-1946, the series was based on a Jewish family living in a Bronx tenement. On radio, the 15 minute show was a serial that dealt in real life situations, with Molly Goldberg as the worrying, loving matriarch. When the show went to TV in 1949, it became the forerunner to all later family sitcoms.

The Goldbergs raised serious issues, as All In The Family did, decades later. In 1939, Kristallnacht was discussed and a rock thrown thru the Goldbergs' window during Seder. Family discussions included Nazi Germany, with The Goldbergs concerned about family members in Europe. During the McCarthy Era, Gertrude's co-star, Phillip Loeb, was blacklisted. She refused to fire him, and the show was dropped. She moved on to another network with a new co-star, quietly paying Loeb his salary on the side anyway. He later committed suicide when he could find no work.

Though much of The Goldbergs is lost, the radio show lives on here:
http://www.dumb.com/oldtimeradio/radio/32/comedies/Goldbergs.html

Gertrude Berg was a force. I'm just now starting to investigate all she did, and will post about her again. Now I know where my Dad got his catchprase, "Yoohoo, Mrs. Bloom...."

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