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Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
(October 3, 1899 – September 14, 1966) was an American actress, screenwriter and producer. A pioneer of classic radio, she was one of the first women to create, write, produce and star in a long-running hit when she premiered her serial comedy-drama The Rise of the Goldbergs (1929), later known as The Goldbergs. Her career achievements included winning a Tony Award
Tony Award
and an Emmy Award, both for Best Lead Actress.

Contents

1 Life and career 2 Biographies 3 Death 4 References 5 Further reading 6 External links

Life and career[edit] Berg was born Tillie Edelstein[1] in 1899 in the East Harlem[1] neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, to Jacob and Diana Edelstein, natives of Russia and England, respectively. Berg's chronically unstable mother, Dinah, grieving over the death of her young son, experienced a series of nervous breakdowns and later died in a sanitarium.[1] Tillie, who lived with her family on Lexington Avenue,[1] married Lewis Berg in 1918; they had two children, Cherney (1922–2003) and Harriet (1926–2003). She learned theater while producing skits at her father's Catskills Mountains resort in Fleischmanns, New York.[2][3]

Berg was also the author and lead actress of The House of Glass, heard on NBC
NBC
in 1935. Berg played a hotel owner in this short-lived radio program.

After the sugar factory where her husband worked burned down, she developed a semi-autobiographical skit, portraying a Jewish family in a Bronx
Bronx
tenement, into a radio show. Though the household had a typewriter, Berg wrote her script by hand, taking the pages this way to a long-awaited appointment at NBC. When the executive she was meeting with protested that he could not read what Berg had written, she read the script aloud to him. Her performance not only sold the idea for the radio program but also got Berg the job as the lead actress on the program she had written. Berg continued to write the show's scripts by hand in pencil for as long as the program was on the air.[2] On November 20, 1929, a 15-minute episode of The Rise of the Goldbergs was first broadcast on the NBC
NBC
radio network. She started at $75 a week. Less than two years later, in the heart of the Great Depression, she let the sponsor propose a salary and was told, "Mrs. Berg, we can't pay a cent over $2,000 a week."[4] Berg's husband, Lewis -- who became a successful consulting engineer, though his job loss prompted her to write the initial radio script -- refused to be photographed with his wife for publicity purposes, as he felt this was infringing on her success.[2]

Berg working on television scripts by hand in pencil in 1950.

Berg became inextricably identified as Molly Goldberg, the bighearted matriarch of her fictitious Bronx
Bronx
family who moved to Connecticut
Connecticut
as a symbol of Jewish-American upward mobility. She wrote practically all the show's radio episodes (more than 5000) plus a Broadway adaptation, Me and Molly (1948). It took considerable convincing, but Berg finally prevailed upon CBS
CBS
to let her bring The Goldbergs to television in 1949. Early episodes portrayed the Goldberg family openly and personally struggling to adapt to American life. Just as Berg stated in her autobiography, she chose to depict her Jewish grandfather's worship to America and the new world in her first radio broadcast show. Her characters Molly, Jake, Sammy and Rosie emphasized her day to day stories of Jewish immigration to America.[5] Immigrant life and the Goldberg family struggle were familiar and relatable to many families during this point in American history. Radio seemed to lend a hand to new settlers and produced a common place to tie patriotism and families together. The program's victory is largely because of the familiar feelings of the American people portrayed in the program's scripts. The first season script was later published into a book form.[5] Berg won the first ever Emmy Award
Emmy Award
for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series her debut year on the network—her twentieth consecutive year of playing the role—and the show stayed in production for five years.[6] The Goldbergs ran into trouble in 1951, during the McCarthy Era. Co-star Philip Loeb
Philip Loeb
(Molly's husband, patriarch Jake Goldberg) was one of the performers named in Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television
Television
and blacklisted as a result. Loeb resigned rather than cause Berg trouble. He reportedly received a generous severance package from the show, but it didn't prevent him from sinking into the depression that ultimately drove him to suicide in 1955.[7] The Goldbergs returned a year after Loeb departed the show and continued until 1954, after which Berg also wrote and produced a syndicated film version. The show remained in syndicated reruns for another few years, after one year of production and 39 episodes (it aired on some stations as Molly).[6] The series is currently seen on the Jewish Life Television
Television
(JLTV) cable network.

Berg with orchids in the greenhouse of her summer home, 1954.

In 1959, Berg won the Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Actress for her performance in A Majority of One. She made guest appearances on The Martha Raye Show and The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. On February 6, 1958, she appeared on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.[6] In 1961, Berg won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. Berg also published a best-selling memoir, Molly and Me, in 1961.[citation needed] That same year, she made a last stab at television success in the Four Star Television
Television
situation comedy, Mrs. G. Goes to College
Mrs. G. Goes to College
(retitled The Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
Show at midseason). Her costars were Cedric Hardwicke, Mary Wickes
Mary Wickes
and Marion Ross. Berg played a 62-year-old widow who enrolls in college. The actress was also the "mystery guest'" on the series What's My Line three times. The first time she appeared was May 9, 1954. She signed in as Gertrude Berg, however, the show used her alias of Molly Goldberg. She also appeared May 8, 1960, and October 1, 1961.[6] Berg was also a songwriter. Country music
Country music
singer Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline
sang Berg's composition "That Wonderful Someone" on Cline's 1957 debut album.[8] Biographies[edit] A biography of Berg, Something on My Own: Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
and American Broadcasting, 1929–1956, by Glenn D. Smith, Jr. (Syracuse University Press) appeared in 2007. Aviva Kempner's 2009 documentary, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, deals with Berg's career, and to an extent, her personal life.[9] Death[edit] Berg died of heart failure on September 14, 1966, aged 66, at Doctors Hospital in Manhattan.[10] She is buried at Clovesville Cemetery in Fleischmanns, New York. Her husband, Lewis, died in 1985 at age 87.[11] References[edit]

^ a b c d Smith, Glenn D. (2007). "Something on My Own": Gertrude Berg and American Broadcasting, 1929-1956. Syracuse University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0815608875.  ^ a b c Senseney, Dan (August 1954). The Heart of the Goldbergs (PDF). TV-Radio Mirror. Retrieved January 30, 2012.  ^ Shandler, Jeffrey. "Gertrude Berg", Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia ^ Current Biography 1941, pg. 71 ^ a b Michele Hilmes, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998). ^ a b c d Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
on IMDb ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (6th Ed.), by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, pg. 404 ^ "Patsy Cline". Allmusic. 1957. Retrieved January 31, 2012.  (Note the last name is misspelled on the website as Burg) ^ Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, mollygoldbergfilm.org; accessed December 6, 2014. ^ "Gertrude Berg, Molly of 'The Goldbergs' Dead; Actress Wrote and Starred in Popular Radio-TV Series". New York Times. September 15, 1966. Retrieved 2009-07-10. Gertrude Berg, known to millions of Americans as the original Jewish mother of radio, television, stage and screen, died yesterday of heart failure at Doctors Hospital after a brief illness.  ^ Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
at Find a Grave

Further reading[edit]

Marc, David (2004). "Berg, Gertrude". In Horace Newcomb. Encyclopedia of Television. I (A-C) (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Fitzroy Dearborn. pp. 239–40. Retrieved 2010-11-10.  Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1998.  "Tuning in to Women in Television" (National Women's History Museum)

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gertrude Berg.

Biography portal

Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
at AllMovie Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
on National Public Radio Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
Honoree at The Paley Center for Media Syracuse University: Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
Papers Interview with Fred Rogers Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
on the PBS show Children's Corner, Archive of American Television
Television
interview with Fred Rogers, part 4 of 9, about ten minutes into the program. Webcast on Gertrude Berg, The Paley Center for Media, "From The Goldbergs to 2005: The Evolution of the Family Sitcom" (November 16, 2005)

v t e

Primetime Emmy Award
Emmy Award
for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
(1950) Imogene Coca
Imogene Coca
(1951) Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
(1952) Eve Arden
Eve Arden
(1953) Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
(1955) Nanette Fabray
Nanette Fabray
(1956) Jane Wyatt
Jane Wyatt
(1957) Jane Wyatt
Jane Wyatt
(1959) Jane Wyatt
Jane Wyatt
(1960) Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck
(1961) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1962) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1963) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1964) No Award (1965) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1966) Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
(1967) Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
(1968) Hope Lange
Hope Lange
(1969) Hope Lange
Hope Lange
(1970) Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1971) Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1972) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1973) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1974) Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper
(1975) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1976) Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur
(1977) Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1978) Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon
(1979) Cathryn Damon
Cathryn Damon
(1980) Isabel Sanford
Isabel Sanford
(1981) Carol Kane
Carol Kane
(1982) Shelley Long
Shelley Long
(1983) Jane Curtin
Jane Curtin
(1984) Jane Curtin
Jane Curtin
(1985) Betty White
Betty White
(1986) Rue McClanahan
Rue McClanahan
(1987) Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur
(1988) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1989) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1990) Kirstie Alley
Kirstie Alley
(1991) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1992) Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr
(1993) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1994) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1995) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1996) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1997) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1998) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1999) Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton
(2000) Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton
(2001) Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston
(2002) Debra Messing
Debra Messing
(2003) Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
(2004) Felicity Huffman
Felicity Huffman
(2005) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2006) America Ferrera
America Ferrera
(2007) Tina Fey
Tina Fey
(2008) Toni Collette
Toni Collette
(2009) Edie Falco
Edie Falco
(2010) Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy
(2011) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2012) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2013) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2014) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2015) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2016) Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(2017)

v t e

Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman
/ Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes
(1947) Judith Anderson
Judith Anderson
/ Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
/ Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1948) Martita Hunt (1949) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1950) Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen
(1951) Julie Harris (1952) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1953) Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
(1954) Nancy Kelly
Nancy Kelly
(1955) Julie Harris (1956) Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton
(1957) Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes
(1958) Gertrude Berg
Gertrude Berg
(1959) Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
(1960) Joan Plowright
Joan Plowright
(1961) Margaret Leighton
Margaret Leighton
(1962) Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen
(1963) Sandy Dennis (1964) Irene Worth
Irene Worth
(1965) Rosemary Harris
Rosemary Harris
(1966) Beryl Reid
Beryl Reid
(1967) Zoe Caldwell (1968) Julie Harris (1969) Tammy Grimes
Tammy Grimes
(1970) Maureen Stapleton
Maureen Stapleton
(1971) Sada Thompson
Sada Thompson
(1972) Julie Harris (1973) Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst
(1974) Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn
(1975) Irene Worth
Irene Worth
(1976) Julie Harris (1977) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1978) Constance Cummings
Constance Cummings
/ Carole Shelley
Carole Shelley
(1979) Phyllis Frelich (1980) Jane Lapotaire (1981) Zoe Caldwell (1982) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1983) Glenn Close
Glenn Close
(1984) Stockard Channing
Stockard Channing
(1985) Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
(1986) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1987) Joan Allen
Joan Allen
(1988) Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins
(1989) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1990) Mercedes Ruehl
Mercedes Ruehl
(1991) Glenn Close
Glenn Close
(1992) Madeline Kahn
Madeline Kahn
(1993) Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg
(1994) Cherry Jones
Cherry Jones
(1995) Zoe Caldwell (1996) Janet McTeer
Janet McTeer
(1997) Marie Mullen (1998) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(1999) Jennifer Ehle
Jennifer Ehle
(2000) Mary-Louise Parker
Mary-Louise Parker
(2001) Lindsay Duncan
Lindsay Duncan
(2002) Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
(2003) Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad
(2004) Cherry Jones
Cherry Jones
(2005) Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon
(2006) Julie White
Julie White
(2007) Deanna Dunagan (2008) Marcia Gay Harden
Marcia Gay Harden
(2009) Viola Davis
Viola Davis
(2010) Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand
(2011) Nina Arianda (2012) Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson
(2013) Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
(2014) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(2015) Jessica Lange
Jessica Lange
(2016) Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf
(2017)

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 15975555 LCCN: no89020371 ISNI: 0000 0003 6842 569X BNF: cb16013646w (data) SN

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