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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Aviva Kempner’s standard-issue bio-doc on Gertrude Berg & her alter-ego Molly Goldberg, one of the great pioneers of early radio & television sit-coms, is nothing fancy (and a bit padded with stock footage), but it gets the job done. Producing, penning & playing her signature character for over three decades, Berg not only put together a remarkable career for herself, she also managed to reignite a post-Molly second-act that got her a B’way Tony Award. (She already had an Emmy.) Surprisingly, the Molly Goldberg character isn’t the expected Yiddisher Mama, but a transitional woman with modern ideas and a couple of all-American kids to raise. (The actors who played the kids weren’t even Jewish.) And the behind-the-scenes story moves beyond the confines of tv history when the Communist Witch-Hunts take their toll, first on a cast member and then, by reflection, on Gertrude/Molly. Her honorable response, and her eventual professional triumph on stage, is movie-ready material. A talented lady . . . and a mensch. She's even got Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a character witness.

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