Born in Harlem in 1899, Gertrude Berg was a housewife, mother, and amateur writer when she created the Goldberg family for radio. Cited as radio’s first Jewish comedy, The Rise of The Goldbergs began in 1929 as a weekly 15-minute program. In 1931, the show became a daily serial known simply as The Goldbergs. It aired at various times on NBC and CBS until 1950, before becoming a hit on television.
Berg played the role of Molly Goldberg, with James Waters as her husband Jake, and Alfred Ryder and Roslyn Silber as their children, Sammy and Rosalie. Later, Menasha Skulnik joined the cast as Molly’s Uncle David.
Berg’s stories also centered around real, believable events, with Molly as the wise but fretful mother. Devoted to authenticity on and off the air, Berg regularly visited New York’s Lower East Side in the name of research. When a scene took place at breakfast, Berg insisted on breaking real eggs into a real frying pan while the cast rattled silverware and china.
Gertrude Berg died on September 14, 1966.
The Goldbergs was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.