Friday, June 24, 2016


While doing a little research for my Hat Squad tribute to Ann Morgan Guilbert, I found this dialogue exchange from her appearance on 'Newhart' in the episode "Georgie and Bess":

Aunt Bess:
Those days, you couldn't tear Georgie away from the radio.  
As I recall, your favorite was 'The Goldbergs'.
George Utley:
That's 'cause I had a crush on Gertrude Berg....
Until my Dad showed me a picture of her.

Luckily there aren't many Zonks in connection to 'The Goldbergs'.  If anything, any future references will probably be traced back to the current ABC sitcom which debuted in 2013.  But thanks to this piece of dialogue, we can claim any reference to the previous incarnation of 'The Goldbergs' is to the radio show.

According to Wikipedia, the radio show ran from 1929 to 1946.  And as is the case with many of the TV show Zonks we have to disable, 'The Goldbergs' was based on "real-life" people, in this instance, a family from the Bronx.

There are only two Zonks that I can find which make reference to 'The Goldbergs'.  The first one occurred during the 12th season premiere of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' - Joe E. Lewis joked that the food served on the show wasn't kosher.

There is no problem in considering this to be a call-back to the radio show which ended a dozen years earlier.  Lewis would have known that the majority of his audience would have remembered it.

That same argument can be made with the second Zonk.....


Pete Campbell: 
What was that in there?
Harry Crane:

Pete Campbell:
Don and Molly Goldberg, did you see that?
Harry Crane:
Yeah I caught it, what's your point?
Pete Campbell:
I don't know.

Pete's description of client Rachel Menken as 'Molly Goldberg' had nothing to do with the way Miss Menken looked.  (For alls I know, Pete - like George Utley before him - might not have even known what Gertrude Berg looked like.  No, that nickname was all about her being Jewish.)

Again, there's no reason for this reference to be anything but calling back to the radio show, even though it ended fourteen years earlier.  ("The Marriage Of Figaro" took place in April of 1960.)  Pete Campbell was born in 1932 (based on the age of the actor Vincent Kartheiser at the time of filming.) and so would have been old enough to remember listening to the show with his family.

Someday, Molly Goldberg and the entire Goldberg Family will make it into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.  Soon enough I will have run out of Christmas-themed inductees into the Hall for the month of December, and so I think I would then dedicate the month to the theme of Multiversals & Multidimensionals. 

Molly Goldberg's family began as a radio show, was adapted into a TV series, from which a movie was made.  Just before the debut of the TV show, a stage play was developed from the material and in 1973 there was a musical called "Molly" which was based on the family.

As for their televersions, 'The Goldbergs' don't just exist in Earth Prime-Time.  They could also be found in the sketch comedy dimension of Skitlandia:

'Texaco Star Theatre'
Episode #5.4 (1952)
Berg and McQuade portray their characters from the series.
Episode #5.15 (1953) 
Characters from the show appear in this episode

Episode #6.20 (1954) 
Berg and McQuade portray their characters from the series.

According to Wikipedia:
In 1957, Gertrude Berg made her last two appearances as Molly Goldberg: first on an episode of the NBC-TV variety series 'Washington Square' with Ray Bolger, and then on a Kate Smith special that aired on ABC-TV.

It can't be claimed that she appeared on the 1954 Mother's Day edition of the game show 'What's My Line?' as the "Mystery Challenger", even though her placard identified her as such.  She signed in as Gertrude Berg and they talked about the TV show as just that, not as contemporaries in the main Toobworld.


No comments: