This Week in History

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Molly Goldberg makes her television debut

October 18, 1948
Berg, Gertrude 2 - still image [media]
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The quintessential Jewish mother to millions of television viewers, "Molly Goldberg" (Gertrude Berg) is shown here in a scene from the film Molly, presumably giving out a taste of chicken soup.

Institution: Private collection


Gertrude Berg made her television debut as Bronx housewife Molly Goldberg on NBC's Chevrolet on Broadway in 1948. The Goldbergs began running as a comedy series on NBC radio in 1929 and became one of television's earliest and most popular situation comedies beginning in 1949. Berg produced and scripted the shows and portrayed Molly Goldberg, the family matriarch.

Each show offered audiences a pleasant, often comical portrayal of the life of a second-generation Jewish American family. Assimilation into American culture was a prominent theme throughout the series with the last season incorporating the family's move from their Bronx apartment to a fictitious suburb. After the series' cancellation in 1955, Berg went on to win a Tony Award in 1959 for her work in the Broadway comedy A Majority of One by Leonard Spigelgass. Gertrude Berg died in New York City on September 14, 1966.

To learn more about Gertrude Berg, visit Jewish Women: An Online Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: This Week in History January 10, 1949, Gertrude Berg's "The Goldbergs" premieres on television; November 20, 1929, Gertrude Berg debuts in "The Goldbergs"; Television in the United States; In Focus: Jewish Women in Comedy; Gertrude Berg in the Virtual Archive.

Sources: Jewish Women In America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 139-141; J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler, ed., Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting (Princeton, NJ: 2003), pp. 113-127.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Molly Goldberg makes her television debut." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/oct/18/1948/gertrude-berg>.