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Gertrude Berg

Gertrude Berg

Gertrude Berg was the lead actress and driving force behind The Goldbergs, which successfully made the leap from radio plays to national television and brought a Jewish family into mainstream American homes.

The Goldbergs- Then & Now

This week marks the anniversary of Gertrude Berg’s television debut as housewife Molly Goldberg. This week also marks the fourth episode of ABC’s new show, The Goldbergs. Interestingly enough: same name, different show—and very different times.  

Because there are few things in the world I like more than TV, I decided to sit down this week and honor Gertrude Berg by diving right into The Goldbergs.

Gertrude Berg debuts in "The Goldbergs"

November 20, 1929

Gertrude Berg debuted as matriarch Molly Goldberg on NBC Radio's "The Goldbergs."

Molly Goldberg makes her television debut

October 18, 1948

Gertrude Berg, star and producer of the popular radio comedy "The Goldbergs," made her television debut as Molly Goldberg.

Gertrude Berg's "The Goldbergs" premieres on television

January 10, 1949

"The Goldbergs," Gertrude Berg's popular radio program about a Jewish family living the American dream, premiered as a television series.

Television in the United States

American Jewish women have a complex history of association with the medium of television. Since emerging as a mass medium in the early post–World War II years, television has figured prominently in the careers of a number of American Jewish women working both before and behind the camera.

Film Industry in the United States

The history of Jewish women’s contribution to the Hollywood film industry has been one of gradual progression toward ever higher levels of participation. For most of Hollywood’s history, the dominant tendency was to achieve a universal image that revealed no traces of ethnic heritage. This trend held until the 1960s and affected all ethnic groups. Only a few dozen Jewish actors were able to make their way into stardom under these constraints. Since the 1960s, however, Hollywood films have reflected a higher degree of ethnic diversity. The result of this change is that increasing numbers of Jewish actors have been able to establish careers in Hollywood.

Cookbooks in the United States

When you are searching for instructions on how to prepare the perfect pickled tongue, for hints on setting a festive [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:395]Shabbat[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] table, or a refresher course in the laws and lore of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:377]Passover[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], American Jewish cookbooks are an invaluable source of information on Jewish life. The first publicly available American Jewish cookbook was published in 1871. Esther Levy’s Jewish Cookery Book on Principles of Economy Adapted for Jewish Housekeepers with Medicinal Recipes and Other Valuable Information Relative to Housekeeping and Domestic Management was an attempt to touch on most aspects of Jewish home life. While few of the hundreds of Jewish cookbooks written since attempt the breadth of this first work, American Jewish cookbooks capture the range of Jewish religious and cultural expression.

Gertrude Berg

For a generation of Americans, Gertrude Berg embodied Jewish motherhood in a series of radio, television, stage, and film performances. She is best remembered as the creative force behind the Goldbergs, a fictitious Jewish family who lived in an apartment at 1038 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. In addition to her matriarchal public persona, Berg was also a one of the first American women to work as a writer and producer of radio and television situation comedy.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Gertrude Berg." (Viewed on December 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/15012>.

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