Gertrude Berg Documentary

There’s a new documentary about Gertrude Berg in theaters this month titled Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. I read about it in Friday’s edition The Hartford Courant in which Susan Dunne reviewed the film, directed by Aviva Kempner. You can read here review here. Dunne calls the documentary “a charming meander down memory lane” and refers to footage from the series as “priceless, more well-preserved than many TV shows of that era.” She does point out that it “falls into the common bio-documentary trap of overcooking every small fact.” But overall the review is positive and Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is given three stars (out of a possible four).

The official website for the documentary can be found here and includes a trailer, photo albums, a list of theaters and more. You can also watch the trailer at Apple’s website. And here is the documentary’s IMDb entry.

1 Comment

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Gertrude Berg was a remarkable woman. She was one of the few women who produced her own radio and TV programs, as well as owned them.

    “THE RISE OF THE GOLDBERGS”, as the first version of the series [15 minutes, five evenings a week] was known in 1929, eventually became simply “THE GOLDBERGS”, shifting into a daily afternoon combination of gentle humor and “soap opera” elements {one storyline had the family held hostage in their apartment by desperate men} before it ended in 1945. By 1949, it was a weekly half-hour “dramedy” (often more dramatic elements than comedy), which then became a TV series, which abruptly ended in 1951 when Gertrude refused to fire Philip {“Jake Goldberg”} Loeb after he was branded a “Communist” by that odious “Red Channels” publication- her sponsor, General Foods, insisted he be fired or they’d cancel their sponsorship. She wouldn’t give in, they dropped the show, and CBS couldn’t find another advertiser as long as Loeb was associated with the show. Finally, in 1952, she went to NBC, where they told her, “either Loeb goes, or ‘THE GOLDBERGS’ will never be seen on TV again”. She had to let him go {he finally committed suicide in 1955 because he had no money, and nobody would hire him because he was “blacklisted”}- and the series began dying a “slow death” from there. It bounced from NBC to DuMont…and then she decided produce a weekly filmed version of the series for syndication in 1955. Problem was, most filmed “situation comedies” had advanced, by that time, to the point of being “bland” and “conforming” {i.e., “THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET”}, and a Jewish family in the suburbs just wasn’t appealing to most “mainstream” viewers [even without a laugh track]- some stations didn’t even want to carry the show under “THE GOLDBERGS” title {“too ethnic”}, and they telecast it under an alternate title, “MOLLY”. Only 39 episodes were produced- and Gertrude Berg finally realized her kind of family “comedy” had become passe, and ended the series for good. She continued to appear in other projects [including a recorded version of Dan Greenburg’s 1964 book, “How To Be A Jewish Mother”] until her death in 1966.

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