Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

2009 | USA | color and black & | 92 min

Film Still Image
Buy from Amazon.com
Buy Online,
Documentary Feature,
Film & Media History,
North American Jewish Identity,

Archive Details

Screened at SFJFF 2005

Screened at SFJFF 2009

She’s the most famous woman in America you’ve never heard of. The amazing story of Gertrude Berg is told with humor and insight in this sparkling film biography. Berg was the Oprah of her day—radio and television creator; Emmy award–winning actress; celebrity guest on variety shows; Tony award winner on Broadway; and originator and star of America’s first sitcom, The Goldbergs. Writer of 12,000 scripts for the number one CBS show, she combined comedy and social commentary while introducing endearing Jewish characters to middle America, particularly Molly Goldberg, the family matriarch. In a battle to save the career of her co-star, union organizer Philip Loeb, Berg took on the McCarthy blacklist. That tragic witch hunt (memorialized in the 1976 film The Front) parallels other dramatic changes in television history: The tight-knit Goldberg family—first seen yelling across airshafts, baking bread in a steamy kitchen, playing chess and discussing Freud—moves from the Bronx to the suburbs. Then the show itself is cancelled—only to be replaced by the thoroughly modern I Love Lucy. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg combines rare scenes from The Goldbergs, interviews with fans including Norman Lear, Susan Stamberg and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and movie clips featuring the Marx Brothers and Zero Mostel. Filmmaker Kempner has created a star-studded social history of an American trailblazer.
—Deborah Kaufman

To learn more about Gertrude Berg, click here to download a longer article by Professor Glenn D. Smith, Jr.


  1. NY152 - 07/03/09

    When I saw this film premiered at the JCC in Washington, DC, I expected to be bored, as I have very little patience for documentaries, especially ones concerning early film. I'm glad to report that Kempner's work defied my expectations. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is both informative and cute, giving the perhaps once forgotten Gertrude Berg a refreshing and tasteful image. Those who have forgotten the iconic Gertrude Berg will regain a sense of sweet nostalgia, while others blissfully ignorant to Gertrude Berg's impact on Jewish and commercial television, young and old, will find themselves sweetly enlightened. Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg not only takes an in depth look at Gertrude Berg but also details the history surrounding rise of The Goldbergs, including the infamous blacklist fiasco brought on by the rise of communism as well as other deep seated topics of the era -- an addition to the film which I thought kept the documentary well-rounded and informative, amid its lightly pellet humor. No doubt about it -- Yoo-Hoo is a scream. Kempner has done a fine job in resurrecting Gertrude Berg from her black and white past and putting her in a contemporary lens that we all can understand and enjoy. 10/10, satisfaction guaranteed, very well done.

  2. kbuntin - 07/03/09

    Yoo-Hoo Mrs.Goldberg is an amazing film that tells the life story of the leading female entertainer of her time. I can not agree more with the quote "She's the most famous women in America you've never heard of." I'm surprised that she hasn't won more acclaim for what she accomplished, and I feel that this is a story that needs to be told and that it's a film everyone needs to see especially if you were not exposed to Berg's work before. Younger generations often forget that what is available to them now. What is now available on television wasn't available in the past, and this film really helps people appreciate that. Early producers, writers, and actors had to take big risks when appearing and airing new material. Gertrude Berg took that risk and now character driven sitcom have become the norm of television, thanks to early stars like Gertrude Berg.

Aviva Kempner
Aviva Kempner
Judith Herbert
Co-presented by
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, Hadassah-San Francisco Chapter and KQED Public Broadcasting
SFJFF Upcoming Screenings SFJFF Archives SFJFF Blog online short films