Exhibit: Women Who Dared
BiographiesMultimediaBy CityAbout WWD Jewish Gender Activism
What She Said
  Peggy Charren
  Children's Television Advocate
  Boston WWD Event 2001
  Born in 1928
  Compelled broadcast industry to improve children's television programming
Biography  up to top

Peggy Charren was born in 1928 and raised in New York City, where she felt that 'the whole world was Jewish." She attended Hunter College High School and Connecticut College. Her parents were committed Roosevelt Democrats and sent her to a summer camp where she learned union songs. Charren's uncle, Sidney Buchman, was a Hollywood writer who was blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings; the spectre of McCarthyism scared Charren and helped forge her lifetime commitment to free speech and First Amendment rights.

As a mother of two young daughters in the 1960s, Charren noticed that there were few appealing television programs for kids. She was determined to create a better selection for her children and for others. She gathered a few other women with young children and formed a non-profit organization called Action for Children's Television (ACT), which advocated for higher quality, less commercialized children's television programming and fought censorship. They used the law to challenge the broadcast industry and appealed to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission for better alternatives in children's television. Their efforts ultimately led to the passing of the Children's Television Act of 1990. For her work on behalf of children's television, Charren received the Trustees Award of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, as well as a Peabody Award. Although she closed ACT in 1992, Charren is still known as the ¿Grande Dame of kids' TV."

Charren served on the board of the Jewish Women's Archive from 1996 to 2000, an association that helped her reconnect with her Jewish identity. She lives in Cambridge with her husband.

What She Said  up to top
I think [my parents] brought me up so the way I feel was a perfectly rational adaptation of the way they felt. And although I'm more of an activist than they would ever have thought of being, what I'm concerned about is what they were concerned about. ...More 
[McCarthyism] did [have a big impact] on the whole family. We thought our phone was being tapped. We belonged - as did a lot of people - to all those organizations that were on McCarthy's enemies list ...More 
Always, every day [I experienced conflicts between my work with ACT and family responsibilities]. But you sort of deal with them. You try to work it so that you don't feel guilty about how you're treating your children ...More 
I think when it started, we were called 'housewives' in every story in the paper, and I never did anything about it. I thought you can only work on one issue at a time. And gradually ...More  Audio available
So I did have children around the house and because they were watching television I watched what was on... And the networks were certainly not doing much ...More 
Violence was an issue before ACT, but almost nothing else was. Choice and over-commercialization were not there - we put those issues on the map ...More 
A major goal [of ACT] was to get a rule passed, which actually turned into the idea that we need a law, because you couldn't get the broadcasters to do anything unless there was a law ...More 
It kept me very busy. I was delighted to have found something to work on for over 30 years that I thought was important and that was making at least a little bit of difference ...More 
The biggest challenge was fighting a multi-billion dollar industry, or a few of them ...More 
The most rewarding part was the successes that we had - the political, legal, and legislative successes ...More 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Women's Traditional Roles (Peggy Charren)
 up to top

How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Peggy Charren." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=ppcharren>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Peggy Charren," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=ppcharren>.