Long before Roots
, All in the Family
, and Tyler Perry, there was Mrs. Goldberg. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
is a documentary that explores the wonderful cultural significance of a creative, energetic Jewish woman, Gertrude Berg, and how her vision and drive broke cultural boundaries in the 1930s and beyond. Berg created a character, Mrs. Goldberg, a lovable and loving Jewish mother, shaped in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York City, who became a national heroine and one of the first true pop culture icons of the 20th century. Directed by Aviva Kempner, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
traces the story of young Tillie Edelstein, granddaughter of Jewish refugees, who was born in 1898 in East Harlem. Young Tillie was inquisitive and formed her love for theater at her father's hotel in the Catskills. Later, upon returning to Manhattan, Tillie married and continued to write, supported by her loving husband. Eventually she changed her name to Gertrude and used her married last name, Berg, and became an early radio star in a series based on her insular Jewish neighborhood. The radio show eventually became a TV series--and giant national hit--earning Berg the first Best Actress Emmy. But the power of Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
lies in Kempner's meticulous, captivating storytelling. There are interviews with fans from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to NPR's Susan Stamberg--who relates the possibly apocryphal quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt that it wasn't he who led America out of the Great Depression, "it was Mrs. Goldberg" and the nurturing popularity of the radio series that bore her name. This boxed set is a rich exploration of the America of the 20th century, of the bridging of ethnic worlds, and of the vision and energy of one talented lady who captivated America and helped pave the way for the multicultural America that would lie ahead. The disc includes a great commentary by Kempner, several episodes of the original TV series, and interviews with Edward R. Morrow and others about Berg, who freely admits she "spends more time as Mrs. Goldberg than as myself." Fans of pop culture history and the evolving role of Jews in America will especially love Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
Subtitled as The Most Famous Woman in America You've Never Heard Of," this documentary captures the essence of a most amazing American. Hailed in the 1930s as The First Woman of Radio," Gertrude Berg was a first-generation, Jewish-American female who helped build the very industry that seems to have forgotten her. This wonderful documentary by Aviva Kempner retells her triumphant story. 2 DVDs. 2009/color-b&w/92 min/NR/fullscreen.