8 March 2017 | drednm
THE GOLDBERGS(1950) was produced by Paramount about a year after the TV series launched. I sort of remember the series but really only recall the "Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Bloom" bit and the old ladies hanging out their windows and gossiping across the alley, which was parodied on other shows. Gertrude Berg was a big star on radio and early TV and also a writer. She wrote this film version which has the family expecting an old boyfriend of Molly's (Berg) who has become a rich businessman in Indiana (out west). When he shows up, he has a surprise: a young fiancée (Barbara Rush in her film debut). Always the kibitzer, Molly arranges for young Rush to accompany her to a music appreciation class, where Rush instantly falls for the teacher (Peter Hansen). There's also a young widow living next door to the Goldbergs who would make a better wife for her old friend (Eduard Franz). How will it all end? The series had a long and varied life on radio from 1929 to 1946 in various formats, lengths, and time slots. In 1949 it became a TV series and endured a rocky run. The McCarthy Era raised its ugly head and blacklisted co-star Philip Loeb. Berg refused to fire him from the series so CBS canceled it in 1951. NBC grabbed the show but refused to have Loeb. She relented and the show went on, though she continued to pay Loeb his salary until he committed suicide in 1955. The show then ran on the Dumont Network and first-run syndication until 1957. Berg won an Emmy as best TV actress during the CBS run.
Berg is pretty much the whole show in the movie version (probably on radio and TV also). She was a whirlwind of talent as an actress and writer. She also owned the show. There was also a Broadway play in 1948 written by Berg. At the end of the decade she was a Tony Award for the play "A Majority of One." Anyway, co-stars in the film include Eli Mintz as David, Larry Robinson and Arlene McQuade as the kids, David Opatoshu as the accountant, Betty Walker as a neighbor, Sarah Krohner as Elka, Josephine Whittell as Mrs. Van Nest, and Phyllis Kennedy as an adult student. A time capsule, yes, but one that preserves an important slice of America as it used to be.