Monday, January 17, 2011

Pop History Moment: "The Goldbergs" Debuts

The Goldbergs, the first American television sitcom, was first broadcast on this day in 1949...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHaving begun its run on radio in 1929, The Goldbergs was also a popular comic strip before it hit its first cathode ray tube. There were also Goldbergs books, a Broadway show called Molly and Me in 1948 and, in 1951, a movie.

The brainchild of Gertrude Berg (who starred as Molly Goldberg) The Goldbergs was a fairly standard family sitcom, albeit with a decidedly ethnic flavour. It followed the family as they left the tenements for suburbia, and occasionally incorporated real-world events - such as Kristallnacht - into its ongoing narrative. In many ways, the show was a kitchen-sink soap opera in the same way Coronation Street is a sitcom.

It also had a catch-phrase, that ever-present hallmark of sitcoms; in the Thirties and Forties 'Yoo-hoo! Is anybody?' was on everybody's lips.

The show costarred Philip Loeb as Jake Goldberg until, in 1950, Loeb was blacklisted; Berg refused to fire him under pressure from CBS, and they dropped the show. NBC (where the show had debuted on radio) later picked it up, albeit without Loeb, who later committed suicide. In its final season - 1954 - the Goldbergs moved to the troubled DuMont network. It struggled on until 1956, when production ceased for good - and an entire cottage industry died alongside it.

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