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Poster: Mr. Television
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"Without his sanka decaffeinated coffee, Mr. Goldberg would be grouchy as a bear, I tell you, I tell you truly, really, and I would not lie to you because if I did, would you ever believe me? If Mr. Goldberg did not drink Sanka decaffeinated coffee, I don't know what I would do-I, I don't even know if we'd still have a marriage , I mean it, I really do, I mean, without Sanka I just don't know what we'd do. I'm not saying to you that this Sanka decaffeinated coffee is the greatest product in the world -would I say that to you? No. Why would I say that? All I'm saying is try it, try it once and see how good it tastes and how good you sleep and ...that's all-just try it once and that's what I'm telling you."
-Molly Goldberg, leaning out her window, delivering a Sanka commercial
The Goldbergs was one of television's first hit sitcoms. It aired from January 1949 until October 1954 on CBS, NBC, and Dumont. It then ran as a syndicated series during the 1955-1956 season.
Gertrude Berg had conceived the role of Molly Goldberg in 1928 and made her a popular radio character for almost 20 years beginning a year later. The series had run it's course by 1946 with the entire family growing up and the kids even marrying ( Their son Sammy even fought in World War 2) but when the tv series began in 1949 the kids were teenagers again and the Goldbergs who had moved to Connecticut during the radio years were back in the Bronx.
Thus In January 1949 the entire Goldberg clan moved to television. Living in Apartment 3B at 1030 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, they were a middle- class Jewish family with middle-class problems. Molly's husband Jake ( played by Philip Loeb and later by Harold J. Stone and Robert H. Harris), was in the clothing business, and their 2 children, Sammy (played by Larry Robinson and later by Tom Taylor)and Rosalie ( Arlene McQuade)were active teenagers. Molly was a housewife, prone to gossip with her neighbors across the inside court-yard of the apartment building. Her call to her favorite cohort in gossip-"Yoo-hoo Mrs. Bloom"-came whenever she had something juicy to spread which was quite regularly. Also living with the family was the educated and philosophical Uncle David ( Eli Mintz), patriarch of the family. Molly was a good soul and was constantly involved in trying to help everybody in the neighborhood solve their problems.
Molly was also ever faithful to her family; blood was thicker than water, and chicken soup was thicker than both. One early episode had daughter Rosalie, fourteen-and-a-half, worried about her own future " inhibitions and emotional scars," determined to free herself from her parents' yoke. Molly was uneasy about her daughter's plans ( which included cutting her hair), but realized that the world had changed since she was a girl. Jake would acknowledge no such thing " I am the father in the house, or what am I? If I am, I want to know!" he yelled.
And more: Rosalie wore lipstick for the first time and when she went off babysitting without her homework, a neighbor boy came to the door to ask where she's babysitting so he could join her. It turned out that Rosalie didn't have the nerve to get her hair all cut off. Jake was so relieved, he agreed to let her have a hair trim( the episode ended with the camera aimed at hair snippings as they glide to the floor).
The big question about the Goldberg's transplant was why Television?
"I always felt the Goldbergs were a family that needed to be seen," Berg said when the sitcom became a hit. When asked why Mrs. Bloom-as in "Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Bloom!"-was never seen, Berg said, " I'm afraid that Goldberg fans have decided in their own minds what Mrs. Bloom looks like, and they may be disappointed in her physical appearance."
The Goldbergs was a live series during the years it ran on CBS, NBC, and Dumont. In the fall of 1955 a filmed version( now called Molly), was produced for syndication to local stations, using the same cast as had appeared on Dumont in 1954. In this last version, Molly and the family moved from the Bronx to the suburban community of Haverville.It lasted for one season. New to the cast were Sammy's fiance and later wife Dora ( Betty Bendyke); Dora's mother Carrie ( Ruth Yorke); and Molly's new neighbors, Daisy and Henry Carey ( Susan Steel and Jon Lormer).
The program ended its CBS run in 1951 under a cloud of controversy. Co-Star Philip Loeb had been blacklisted for alleged left-wing sympathies, causing sponsor General Foods to drop the series. Mrs. Berg fought to keep him, but to no avail-nervous sponsor and network executives said that either Loeb went or The Goldbergs would never be seen again. Thus when the series reappeared on NBC in 1952, it was without Loeb. The charges against Loeb were never proven-indeed he declared under oath that he was not a Communist Party member-but his career went into a sharp decline. He had become controversial and advertisers steered clear of him. He appealed to his union for help, with no result. His career in a shambles, Loeb became increasingly depressed and embittered. In 1955, alone in a hotel room, he took a fatal overdose of sleeping pills. Four years after he had been driven from tv, Philip Loeb was dead, a suicide.
An Article From Time Magazine
Question of Responsibility
Monday, Feb. 29, 1932 Article
"It was the sponsored program [i. e. advertising] that saved broadcasting from extinction. The goodwill of the public can be gained through broadcasting only by giving the public what it wants to hear." Merlin Hall Aylesworth, president of National Broadcasting Co.
". . . So to us it seems perfectly natural that advertising and not a license fee [as in England] should 'pay the freight' . . . when it comes to broadcasting." William S. Paley, president of Columbia Broadcasting System.
Every evening, a half hour after Pepsodent's Amos 'n Andy sign off, Pepsodent's "Goldbergs" sign on. This program, a continued story of the fortunes of a middle-class Jewish family, was created for her own amusement by one Mrs. Gertrude Edelstein Berg of Manhattan. At the instance of friends she offered it to NBC, which took it as a sustaining feature in 1929. The part of Mother Goldberg was taken by Authoress Berg herself, who said it represented her grandmother. Last July Pepsodent adopted The Goldbergs as a secondary battery to supplement their Amos 'n Andy.
Last month Pepsodent announced that the program might be discontinued unless enough listeners wrote letters asking for its retention. (As an inducement, a beetle-ware tumbler was offered to every writer who sent in part of a Pepsodent carton.) Candidly Pepsodent admitted it wanted strong evidence that the expense of two nation-wide programs every night was justified. Last week Pepsodent announced that the returns warranted keeping "The" Goldbergs."
Last year TIME made its large-scale radio debut on Columbia Broadcasting System with a program every Friday evening, called "The March of Time," a half-hour's re-enactment of significant news stories of the week. The feature won instant popularity with a smaller audience than "The Goldbergs" and was often called "the only intelligent broadcast on the air." Last week it was announced that "The March of Time," having completed its pre-arranged schedule of presentations, would be discontinued, at least temporarily. Listeners were invited to write letters stating whether or not they desired "The March of Time" to be brought back to the air. (No beetle-ware tumblers were offered, since it is contrary to TIME'S policy to offer any inducements except its own merits.) The letters received last week were distinguished not by their volume, but by their insistence in some cases indignant that the program be retained for its educational value, its adult mentality. Typical: "Under no condition deprive the American public of the education and the pleasure. . . ."
"Its removal from the air would constitute an irreparable loss . . ."
"Would you force your listeners to a life of listening to toothpaste propaganda and vacuum-headed crooners?"
"I realize that TIME itself may dispense with this feature as an advertisement, but your radio audience can ill afford to lose such a delightful source of information."
Naturally gratifying to TIME, the letters constituted an indictment of Radio on a charge of failure-to-provide. That tens of thousands of listeners should protest so violently against the disappearance of any one commercial program as one of the few fit for adult consumption, was testimony to the leanness of Radio fare.
Had "The Goldbergs" been chloroformed, their followers would not have been long bereft. Radio could easily provide another continued story or comedy sketch to fill its place. Radio is a practiced handmaiden of entertainment. But when "The March of Time" ends, Radio has no substitute at hand. For all its blatant claim to being a medium for education, Radio contributes little of its own beyond the considerable service of bringing good music to the millions. (Yet radiomen sputter with rage when the Radio is called "just another musical instrument.")
Unlike a newspaper, which sells advertising in order to fulfill its prime function of giving news, the advertisement is Radio's prime offering. Also unlike a newspaper, which increases its pages along with any increase in advertising, Radio is restricted to the hours of the day. Of those hours it sells as many as it can. Naturally the evening hours, when most listeners are tuned in the "front page" of radio is virtually the property of the advertiser to do with as he pleases.
Not to be ignored are such creditable services as the current series of broadcasts from Geneva of interviews with League of Nations delegates. But they are notable exceptions that prove the rule. Other educational features sustained by Radio ("schools of the air" and the like) are broadcast in early daytime hours which are not in much demand either by advertisers or public.
TIME bought the series of half hours on CBS at $4,200 per period (plus $1,800 for actors, music, etc.) to perform a definite piece of advertising: to acquaint a larger public than its own logical readers with the existence of TIME, The Weekly Newsmagazine. (Theory: a magazine profits from general reputation.) In the opinion of TIME'S publishers the advertising purpose was well accomplished; further expenditure on radio at this time would not justify itself. Thus was raised a question of responsibility: Should TIME, or any other business, feel obliged to be the "philanthropist of the air," to continue paying for radio advertising it does not want in order to provide Radio with something worthwhile? Or is it up to the Radio Chains to improve the quality of broadcasts even at some reduction in their fat profits?
Another Article From Time Magazine
The Inescapable Goldbergs
Monday, Jun. 23, 1941 Article
This week Mrs. Gertrude Berg, authoress and leading lady of The Goldbergs ("Rags to Riches" with a Yiddish accent), becomes practically inescapable. Her program, which originated in 1929, is already being heard over 23 CBS stations and MBS's WOR. The foam of her soapy masterwork for Procter & Gamble will henceforth also pour from 30 stations of NBC's Red Network. The Goldbergs will be on the air morning, noon and night: first with NBC at 11:30 a.m. E.D.S.T., then with CBS at 5:15, and finally via transcription with WOR next dawning. No other radio show ever had such a thorough airing.
As scripteuse and heroine of The Goldbergs, small, bulging, sloe-eyed Mrs. Berg has earned $5,000 a week. The addition of the NBC stations will jack this up about $1,500. This stipend would make her the highest-paid woman in radio. But Mrs. Berg is no woman for half measures. In whatever time she can spare from The Goldbergs, she whips together a serial called Kate Hopkins ("The Exciting Story of a Visiting Nurse") which brings her an extra $1,000 weekly. Total gross take: $7,500 a week.
To make her $7,500, Mrs. Berg works from 6 a.m. to 5:30 daily. She can turn out a 15-minute script in about an hour, whether it involves The Goldbergs or Kate Hopkins. Typical dialogue from her No. 1 show (in which she plays the gentle Molly Goldberg) gives a hint of how she manages to work so fast:
Molly: You are home?
Jake: If I'm here, I'm home.
Now 40, Mrs. Berg studied writing and acting at Columbia University, first broke into radio in 1929 with a script called Effie and Laura, which sank without a trace. Then she heard one of Milt Gross's dialect stories over the air. Thereupon inspiration welled up, and next day she started in on The Goldbergs. By 1931 she was in clover.
Mrs. Berg is convinced that her scripts make for better interracial relations. She makes sure that some of the Goldbergs' best friends are Irish. She and her radio character are practically the same personality. She is a great one for nosing around Manhattan's lower East Side. Not long ago she crashed a Polish wedding, passing herself off to some as a friend of the bride, to others as a relative of the groom.
She lives in a ten-room duplex on Central Park West, has an impressive estate in upper New York. Together with her husband, a sugar technician, and her 15-year-old daughter, she likes to spend an evening parodying radio shows. Her favorite is the Good Will Hour, for her own version of which she makes up some pretty startling problems.
Another Article From Time Magazine
The Goldbergs at Princeton
Monday, Apr. 26, 1943 Article
Plump, placid, matronly Mrs. Gertrude Berg scarcely knew what to make of it. The august Princeton University Library wanted to salt away the scripts of her radio show The Goldbergs (TIME, June 23, 1941) as "one of the best serials now being broadcast." In Old Nassau's archives The Goldbergs will find themselves beside such other candidates-for-the-classics as the best of Norman Corwin's scripts, David Loth's Woodrow Wilson, F. van Wyck Mason's Stars on the Sea, etc.
For most of the last 14 years, Mrs. Berg, wife of a consultant on sugar technology and mother of two, has ground out her soapy, five-a-week masterwork (now on CBS, Mon.-Fri., 1:45-2 p.m., E.W.T.) for Procter & Gamble. It has been hard work, paid for by $5,000 a week. Mrs. Berg, who started at $50 a week, also produces, directs and plays the leading lady (Molly) of her Goldberg saga. Now 42 and a millionairess, Mrs. Berg has a ten-room duplex in Manhattan, an estate in Bedford Hills, N.Y.
The Goldbergs is "Rags to Riches" with a Yiddish accent. Through the years The Goldbergs (Mama Molly, Papa Jake, Daughter Rosie, Son Sammy) have moved gradually from Manhattan's Lower East Side up Riverside Drive and, finally, into the green Connecticut countryside. Their snail's-pace success has been milestoned by the kind of homely moralizing which moves clerics to write friendly letters.
Last week The Goldbergs were in an ominous situation. Sammy had gone to war and his bride, whom he married secretly, had come to live with her in-laws. They like her well enough, but there is something between her and a hired man. As Mrs. Berg's summation put it:
"George [the hired man] and Grace [Sammy's wife] are doing very well . . . in concealing the fact that they know each other . . . but what they're doing it for we can't guess, and where Sammy comes into this, we still don't know . . . why did he marry Grace. . . . Was it love . . . or what?" Princeton will eventually get the answer. But Mrs. Berg's agent posed a special problem for the university to solve. Mrs. Berg has written 3,640 scripts (about six million words) for The Goldbergs. They are mimeographed, therefore bulky. Wrote her agent to Princeton: "If we continue to send you daily scripts the archives will overflow. Perhaps one representative script per week will serve. . . ."
Another Article From Time Magazine
Life with Molly
Monday, Sep. 26, 1949 Article
Twenty years ago a squib on the radio page of the old New York Evening World noted that "the story of a cloak-and-suit operator's climb from a dingy tenement to Park Avenue will be dramatized in the Rise of the Goldbergs . . ." With that feeble trumpet toot, the Goldberg family was off on a career that has included a run of 17 consecutive years on radio (only Amos 'n' Andy has run longer), a Broadway play and road company, a comic strip, vaudeville sketches and a television show (Mon. 9:30 p.m., CBS-TV). In all the years, the Goldbergs have never managed to climb out of their Bronx tenement at 1038 East Tremont Avenue (in real life, 1038 is a street intersection). The Goldbergs have never made Park Avenue. But their creator, plump, 50-year-old Gertrude Berg, did. She has also bought a country estate on the more than $1,000,000 she has earned from the multiple Goldberg enterprises.
The enormously successful Goldberg scripts have an apple-dumpling flavor-sugary, smooth as butter, pastry-thin in plot and heavily spiced with Bronxisms. What keeps this confection from cloying is Author Berg's tart recognition of human frailties and her blunt but understanding sense of humor. Besides writing, co-directing and bossing her show with an iron will, Gertrude Berg plays Molly, the Goldberg matriarch, with a full complement of shrugs, flutters, malapropisms and a passionate capacity for making something dramatic of the commonplace.
Last week, spurred by their television success (they averaged third in the Hooperatings), the Goldbergs were back on radio (Fri. 8 p.m., CBS) after a three-year lapse, doing a weekly repeat of the TV show. It adds seven more hours of rehearsal time to the 26 already required, but only minor editing of the TV script is required for radio. "I'm writing just the way I've always written," says Gertrude Berg. "The only difference is that you can sustain a scene longer on TV. In radio, you break up short scenes with musical bridges."
She no longer has time for exhaustive research into the folkways of urban Jewish life ("Fortunately, Molly never has to be too accurate"). Over the years, the Goldbergs' fan letters (several thousand a month) have maintained a steady 50-50 average between Jews and non-Jews. Mrs. Berg likes to recall the time the Mother Superior of a Philadelphia convent wrote to ask for a synopsis of six weeks' programs. "She said the nuns were regular listeners but they'd given up the Goldbergs for Lent and now they were wondering what had happened."
There is a "very good chance" that Molly and her family will soon be in a movie. But the Goldbergs' invasion of Hollywood, says Mrs. Berg, "will have to wait until my next vacation."
An Article About The Goldberg's Theatrical Movie from Time Magazine.
Monday January 29, 1951
Molly (Paramount) brings The Goldbergs to the screen after a 21-year career in radio, vaudeville, comic strip, legitimate theater and television. As always, The Goldbergs spices its doughy lumps of linguistic comedy and tearful drama with an authentic flavor of Jewish family life in The Bronx, binds them with the hopes, frailties and loyalties common to all families.
Bighearted Molly Goldberg (played, as usual, by Author Gertrude Berg) still rules her clan with the same firm but pliant hand that stirs the big pots forever simmering on her stove. She never runs out of soup for the neighbors, malapropisms for the audience, or schemes for rearranging other people's lives. This time, almost wrecking her husband Jake (Philip Loeb) in the process, she regroups a romantic quadrangle involving an overage suitor and his pink-cheeked fiancee, a middle-aged widow and an eligible young man.
The picture follows the episodic TV format so closely that a moviegoer can spot the likely gaps for commercials.
To read some articles about The Goldbergs go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rFhOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OAAEAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=4070%2C5680199 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KhVPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=K04DAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=4394%2C2046398 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Ah8NAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0moDAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=4182%2C3563332 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8DsaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OicEAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=4084%2C2565637 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KeNQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=N9AMAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=1948%2C1157015 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=IzQrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QZoFAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=6586%2C3057720
To read Philip Loeb's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bw0rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bpoFAAAAIBAJ&dq=philip%20loeb%20died&pg=6963%2C663396
To read Gertrude Berg's Obituary go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=G_0rAAAAIBAJ&sjid=B8gEAAAAIBAJ&dq=the%20goldbergs%20gertrude%20berg&pg=843%2C2294779
To watch some clips from The Goldbergs go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=goldbergs++gertrude+berg&aq=f
For an episode guide go to http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/Goldbergs.htm
For a Biography of Gertrude Berg go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Berg
For a Biography of Plilip Loeb go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Loeb
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100103204147/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/goldberg.html
To listen to episodes of the radio version of The Goldbergs go to http://zootradio.com/Goldbergs.php
For some Goldbergs Show-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/goldbergs-the
For another great review of The Goldbergs go to http://web.archive.org/web/20090122224847/http://museum.tv/archives/etv/G/htmlG/goldbergsth/goldbergsth.htm
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItH5P7gd6k&t=3s
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Keywords: The Cast of goldbergs