Posted by: Bob Fisher | August 12, 2009

The Bronx, Character, and Molly Goldberg

headphonesymbol508… with Bijan Bayne

Molly in window 300

Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg

Human theatre comes in many forms; but essential to the human drama, which so many distinct travel destinations embody, are the elements of character, characterization, and dramatic conflict.

The Borough of The Bronx in New York City is the stage on which many stories have been played out. As one of the initial and principal centres of immigration to the United States – and a multi-ethnic and multicultural one – The Bronx has been one of the major settings for the arrival of immigrants escaping poverty, tyranny, or simply looking for opportunities that circumstances denied them.

And as the character of Molly Goldberg demonstrates (in the multiple senses of the word “character”), the social history of  The Bronx is is one of layers of meaning and meaningfulness.

As a spokesperson for an iconic and diverse community in which the struggle to “fit in” was a constant need and drive, Molly Goldberg (a character created by Gertrude Berg) is in many ways an expression of the survival and flourishing of both the individual and collective self.

As you will hear my friend and colleague Bijan Bayne explain in this podcast, Molly Goldberg became an iconic figure because she represented strength of character and a simple sense of humanity.

To hear my chat with Bijan, click on the audio button at the top of this page.

Aviva Kempner’s Portrait of Molly Goldberg

In her award-winning documentary, Aviva paints a loving portrait of an archetypal figure. In her own words, she says:

“In Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg I’m delighted to document the amazing accomplishments of the talented Gertrude Berg.  I am in awe of how this woman would wake up at six in the morning, write her shows, and then go off to the studio to produce. Without missing a beat she seamlessly performed Molly to perfection.  Here is a woman who wrote the most positive portrayal of a Jewish mother and her family during the decades that severely threatened American and European Jewry. It is more amazing still that she crafted such a warm maternal figure in spite of her own mother’s mental illness. Berg created the “perfect mother” she never experienced in her own life.”

For more information on Aviva Kempner’s delightful documentary “Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg,” visit

To read reviews of the film, click on one of the links below:

gertrude with challah 300

Yoo Hoo Gertrude Berg!

Gertrude Berg was a multitalented woman who learned early on in life to use her intuitive skills and talents  in the comprehensive and interconnected community that early radio and television gave birth to.

For more information on Gertrude Berg herself, see “Gertrude Berg: From Tillie to Molly.”



Bronx resources and links

I Love the Bronx! (the official website of The Bronx Tourism Council

TV Party and The Remarkable Gertrude Berg

Bronx History and Books on the Bronx

See and hear Molly Goldberg here.

Watch Gertrude Berg as the mystery guest confuse the panelists on the classic TV show “What’s My Line.”

What they are saying about Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg

  • “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg does an exemplary job of celebrating the seminal achievements of Gertrude Berg and reaffirming her status as a broadcasting pioneer.”
  • “An engrossing nostalgia bath … a window into a bygone world.”
  • “A rousing portrait of Berg… inspirational look at one of the key pioneers in both radio and TV…”
  • “Before Oprah, Before Martha, There Was Gertrude Berg”
  • “Why would you miss it? Go already!”


More social history in The Bronx


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