fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

None of the movies I saw on airplanes during my trip were worth writing about (basically, lots of predictable romantic comedy fare). I made up for that today by seeing Aviva Kempner's new documentary, "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg."

Gertrude Berg was pretty much before my time, but her name is familiar to anyone with an interest in Jewish popular entertainment. (Which is why I was interested. Well, also because I'd loved Kempner's earlier documentary about Hank Greenberg.) What is remarkable is how popular her show became with non-Jewish audiences. I hadn't known much about her life, however, and there was a lot of interesting trivia in the movie. (For example, her husband was a chemical engineer who invented instant coffee. He did not, however, invent Sanka.) There was a good mix of clips from the television show (and the earlier radio show) along with interviews with family, friends, fans, and experts.

I was particularly impressed by the handling of the anti-Communist witch hunt and how Berg tried to fight for, but was forced to fire, Phillip Loeb. Loeb (who was a union activist but probably not a Communist) committed suicide.

Aside from the ethnic aspect, Berg was also a good businesswoman, who knew what she wanted and fought hard to get it. She paved the way for women like Lucille Ball - and, less directly, Oprah Winfrey.

All in all, a very interesting movie and well worth seeing.
Tags: judaism, movies

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