Before Beaver Cleaver introduced television watchers to his suburban boyhood, before Lucy and Desi’s domestic misadventures became ingrained in the consciousness of the American household, and before the world had even heard of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Gertrude Berg was the queen of the American sitcom.
As the head writer, producer and leading actress of the radio show “The Rise of the Goldbergs” and the subsequent sitcom, “The Goldbergs,” Berg pioneered the vocabulary of the modern television comedy show: the squabbling but loving couple and their scrappy, curious youngsters; the nosy neighbors; and the well-meaning but somewhat befuddled uncle.
Above all, the Goldbergs had the indomitable, gossiping, malapropism-spewing matriarch Molly Goldberg, Berg’s singular creation. Molly Goldberg was once a household name, and Berg a media queen on par with Martha Stewart. Today, she and her creator have fallen into television marginalia. Last year, director Aviva Kempner took steps to revive the Goldberg legacy with her documentary “Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg,” released on DVD August 24.