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Gertrude Berg
June 3, 2012 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Winner of the first Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, winner of a Tony Award in 1959, a pioneer for women as writers and producers in radio and television, and the inventor of the situation comedy, Gertrude Berg is - in the words of her film biographer Aviva Kempner - "the most important woman in America you never heard of".

The Internet Archive has several radio and television episodes of The Goldbergs.

Here you can see her in character on What's My Line?.
posted by Trurl (10 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I stumbled across Gertrude Berg's bio about a year ago, researching something else. After reading of all her accomplishments, I was so thoroughly astonished that I'd never heard of her (or The Goldbergs) that it actually crossed my mind, for a split second, that her Wikipedia page might be some sort of elaborate hoax. I'm still amazed. My 65-year-old mother was even unfamiliar with her. I can't understand it.
posted by azaner at 9:43 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yoo hoo!
posted by stevil at 10:17 PM on June 3, 2012


Wow, fascinating stuff. Thanks.
posted by dejah420 at 10:29 PM on June 3, 2012


She's real, all right. My 95-year-old grandma still thinks she's the cats pajamas. "YOO-hooo, Missus GOLD-boig!"
posted by Scram at 12:10 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stumbled across Gertrude Berg's bio about a year ago, researching something else.

I stumbled across it while looking to see if Rhoda Morgenstern was the first Jewish character to star in their own sitcom. (I disqualified Bridget Loves Bernie as being half-goy.) Needless to say, I wasn't even close.

Berg's current obscurity is truly striking. I think it was Kempner who said, "It's as if, 60 years from now, no one knew who Oprah was."
posted by Trurl at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The interesting thing about being the "most interesting person you've never heard of" is that once you become known as such, you no longer are. Someone else unknown to you has just taken the title. Discovery equals succession.
posted by adoarns at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice post. This is a fascinating topic in general: cf. Emmett Miller, Dan Rice, Norma Talmadge, and many others.
posted by steambadger at 8:56 AM on June 4, 2012


I'd add Fred Allen to that list as well, steambadger. Huge in radio, didn't transition well to TV, almost forgotten by the modern audience. If it weren't for Foghorn Leghorn, he'd be totally forgotten, and most people have no idea that Foghorn was "borrowed" directly from "Allen's Alley".

My 65-year-old mother was even unfamiliar with her. I can't understand it.
Not too surprising. She's too young. By the time your mother was old enough to engage with media, network radio was almost gone and "The Goldbergs" was only on TV in the very earliest years.
posted by briank at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2012


Genuinely fascinating. I wonder who tomorrow's forgotten talents will be.
posted by whitsat at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2012


The Molly Goldberg cookbook is still in print.

Aviva Kempner's next project is about the Rosenwald schools. Julius was my mother's stepfather's uncle.
posted by brujita at 6:23 PM on June 4, 2012


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