Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

Overview

For more than 25 years, Gertrude Berg was one of the most prominent women in American broadcast media and popular culture, as the creator, writer, producer, and star of The Goldbergs, first on radio where it was originally known as The Rise of the Goldbergs and then on television. Berg -- who was best-known to the public in the identity of her character Molly Goldberg -- occupied a unique niche in the fabric of American life, and throughout the 1930s, she and Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the president, competed...
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Overview

For more than 25 years, Gertrude Berg was one of the most prominent women in American broadcast media and popular culture, as the creator, writer, producer, and star of The Goldbergs, first on radio where it was originally known as The Rise of the Goldbergs and then on television. Berg -- who was best-known to the public in the identity of her character Molly Goldberg -- occupied a unique niche in the fabric of American life, and throughout the 1930s, she and Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the president, competed annually in polls for the title of most prominent woman in America. Berg was even called "The First Lady of Radio" at a time when radio was king. Later on, in the television era, she invented the family sitcom as we came to know it, and did battle against the Red Scare and the blacklist. Director Aviva Kempner's documentary gives an intimate and detailed a look at the life of Berg, who died in 1966 virtually forgotten by the executives of the industry that she helped build. In the process, she and the other participants, and their widows and children, as well as admirers such as United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, explain how this woman, an articulate and intelligent first-generation Jewish American with little formal background in writing and no knowledge of the media, rose to such success in just a few years -- and why she was forgotten and swept aside almost as quickly at the other end of her career. Participants and interviewees, in addition to Justice Ginsberg, include producer/writer Norman Lear, actor Edward Asner, and writer/producer Gary David Goldberg.
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Special Features

Over Two Hours of Bonus Material; ; Audio Commentary with the Director; Episodes of The Goldbergs; Gertrude Berg's Guest Appearances with Edward R. Murrow and on Ed Sullivan; Additional Scenes and Interviews; Bonus Gertrude Berg Recipe; Essay from the Director
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Director Aviva Kempner has delivered another triumph that transcends its subject. Like Kempner's documentary The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg 1998, which covered the career of baseball's first Jewish superstar player, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg starts with an ethnic subject. Gertrude Berg was the electronic media's first female Jewish writer/producer; she had never been a star on-stage or in film before, but rather sprung whole and new in radio in late 1929 with her most successful creation, The Rise of the Goldbergs, later shortened simply to The Goldbergs. In one incarnation or another, including a 1950 feature film from Paramount, the Goldbergs were part of American popular culture for much of the next 27 years, until 1956. The fact that she was Jewish was essential to who Gertrude Berg was and what The Goldbergs as a series was -- it also made her one of the Jewish community's most important emissaries to the rest of America, presenting a modern image of the wife and mother and the urban Jewish family. This was all happening at a time in which anti-Semitism was not only fully abroad in the land, but encouraged by some leading political figures of the time. She was a great deal like Hank Greenberg, as a Jewish American who was appealing enough to be accepted into the homes of Americans who had no Jewish friends or neighbors -- in Greenberg's case through his talent for baseball and his demeanor, and in her case for her loving, outgoing, accessible persona onscreen as Molly Goldberg. She was also liked and popular as a figure on the radio and on television in a time when a lot of Americans still harbored suspicion, or even fear, of Jewish people. The irony behind the documentary is that Berg had no larger social agenda; the film reveals her to be a woman who aspired to write and act after enduring a lonely and isolated childhood, emotionally neglected by a mother who never got over the death of her son and was later institutionalized for what would now be defined as severe chronic depression, who created for herself the role of the ideal wife and mother. That the public responded in kind spoke to her abilities as a writer, actress, and producer -- Berg wrote over 12,000 scripts for The Goldbergs, and handled casting and chose directors and crew members, and knew what she wanted, and it was popular for a quarter of a century a creator/producer like Dick Wolf should only have such luck with Law & Order, and he doesn't act in that, or write all of the scripts. The participants in the documentary include a surprising number of co-stars and supporting players from The Goldbergs who lived into the early 21st century, and were interviewed by Kempner just in time. And there are the admirers, among them producer Norman Lear, screenwriter Gary David Goldberg, and United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One also discovers that Gertrude Berg and The Goldbergs had admirers in the African-American community, and the Greek-American community, and among more recent Jewish immigrants whose experiences did not parallel Berg's life as a first-generation American; apparently, as radio's only regularly appearing family of immigrant and first-generation Americans, they were embraced by listeners and viewers of all origins, and doubly so by those audience members who were immigrants, or the first-generation descendants of immigrants. Apparently, everything that Gertrude Berg did came from the heart; there was no calculation in her work or her way of conducting her life and career, even when it came to the financially and politically risky step of fighting against the blacklist on behalf of Phillip Loeb, her co-star as Molly Goldberg's husband, who was victimized by the Red Scare and ultimately destroyed by his inability to find work. That fight cost Berg as well, who disappeared from television after The Goldbergs ended in 1956, some 28 years after it started on radio. Kempner successfully delves into all of these different threads, including religion, personal background, family stresses, and a considerable amount of psychology that led Berg to create The Goldbergs and her screen alter ego, Molly Goldberg. Along the way, we're treated to a panorama of history. The Goldbergs wasn't a "topical" show in the manner of All in the Family or The Baxters both series associated with Norman Lear, but Berg did use it as a vehicle to address the most troubling sides of life in the 1930s, including the rise of Hitler and anti-Semitism, and the aftermath of the Second World War. Some of the audio clips of her work are amazing, but what makes this movie most astonishing -- even more so than the way in which Berg disappeared from popular culture after 1956, despite winning a Tony Award for her performance on Broadway in A Majority of One -- is how funny the material still is. The performances, the humor, and the characters are ageless, and the film is very moving as well. This is a documentary that ought to be taken in more than once, if one is to fully appreciate the participants, the narrative, the history, and the story actually, several stories being told.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/24/2010
  • UPC: 767685223222
  • Original Release: 2009
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Video Group
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:32:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 8,190

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ed Asner Participant
Anne Bancroft
Gertrude Berg Participant
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Participant
Gary David Goldberg Participant
Steve McQueen
Norman Lear Participant
Susan Stamberg Participant
Technical Credits
Aviva Kempner Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Dennis Boni Cinematographer
Judith Herbert Editor
Carol Hilliard Animator
Tom Hurwitz Cinematographer
Learan Kahanov Cinematographer
Fred Karns Score Composer
Tom Kaufman Cinematographer
Barry Kirk Cinematographer
Margaret Nagle Consultant/advisor
Dr. Glenn Smith Jr. Consultant/advisor
Skip Sorelle Sound/Sound Designer
David Waldman Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg - Feature and Commentary
1. Opening Title [3:05]
2. Gertrude's Family [6:23]
3. Lewis Berg [3:38]
4. Radio Debut [1:28]
5. Goldbergs on Radio [9:45]
6. The First Lady of Radio [10:30]
7. Goldbergs' TV Debut [2:07]
8. Apartment Building Humor [14:39]
9. Emmy Best Actress [7:07]
10. Philip Loeb [18:54]
11. Philip Loeb's Suicide [10:40]
12. End Credits [4:27]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg - Feature and Commentary
   Play
   Scenes
   Extras
      Audio Commentary With Director Aviva Kempner: On/Off
      Trailer
Disc #2 -- Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg - Bonus Features
   The Goldbergs
      Play All
         Gertrude Berg
            The Fortune Teller
            Tiny Bubbles
            Whirling Dervish
            Gertrude Joins a Synagogue
            Meet the In-Laws
            Sunday in the Country with Gertrude
            A Day at the Opera
            Mutual Admiration
            Hold That Train
            Visit To The Holy Land
            The Wedding Crasher
            Gelfilte Fish
            A Quick Re-Writer
         Philip Loeb
            Play All
               Practical Joker
               Naughty Boy
               Ladies Man
               Activist
               The Boys Of Summer Stock
               Brief Encounter
               The Final Irony
               First Admendment Rights
         Eli Mintz
            Play All
               Coming to America
               My Brother's Keeper?
               Hebrew Actors Union
               A Mintz by Any Other Name
               The Apron
               The Accent
               The Income Issue
               A Father's Lullaby
         Larry Robinson
            Play All
               Pranks
               Larry on "Sammy"
               Schoolgirl Crush
         Arlene "Fuzzy" McQuade
            Play All
               From Broadway to "The Goldbergs"
               The Nickname
               Anna Italiano
               The Biker Friend
         Cast Member Anecdotes
            Play All
               Jack Urbont (Audition)
               Anna Berger (First TV Show)
               Anna Berger (First Theatrical Lead)
               Viola Harris ("Mrs. Mendel")
         Fanecdotes
            Play All
               Role Model
               Favorite Fan Letter
               "My Son's Marrying a Jew!"
               Anti-Semitism
               A Bigoted Man
               What's in a Name?
               A Union Man
               My Yiddishe Momme
               A Love Of Radio
               Everybody's Jewish
   Gertrude's Legacy
      Play All
         Ruth Bader Ginsburg
         Susan Stamberg
         Jack Urbont
         Henry Schwartz
         Margaret Nagle
         Andrea Roane
         Dr. Glenn Smith, Jr.
         Anna Berger
   Episodes
      "Pincus Pines" (Excerpt)
      "Mother-In-Law (Original Episode Featuring Anne Bancroft Exclusive to the DVD!)
      "Rosie's Nose"
      "Baby Naming"
      Victory Front Presents "The Goldbergs: The World Tomorrow" (1942 Radio Episode)
   Guest Appearances
      Play All
         Person To Person with Edward R. Murrow
         "Molly Hitchcock"
         The Ed Sullivan Show "Hanukkah Bush"
   Aviva's Goodies
      "Yoo-Hoo" Kempner Family Outtakes
      Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg Billboard
      Today I Vote for My Joey
   Filmmaker Bio
   About Docurama
      Credits
   Credits
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