The First Funny Lady

When we talk about the pioneers of television programming, there are certain people that immediately spring to mind. Most of us think of Lucille Ball as among the most celebrated of these groundbreakers for her work in breaking down gender barriers while seamlessly blending screwball and situation comedy. But before the wacky and unconventional Lucille Ball made sitcom history, Gertrude Berg blazed a trail that not only defied standard depictions of ethnicity and gender in entertainment, but also laid the groundwork for the future of the format. History has largely forgotten Berg, whose The Goldbergs became what is largely credited as the first character-driven situational comedy in 1949. And as the show played out over five seasons, Berg's alter ego Molly Goldberg was one of the only female characters on TV that went beyond the blandness of the classic housewife persona. Berg was also the principal writer on the show at a time when female writers were an absolute anomaly. Aviva Kempner's documentary Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg takes a look at the career of this tele-visionary, combining archival footage and interviews to create a portrait of a woman who literally changed the face of popular culture. The film shows at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.50. Visit themodern.org/magnolia for more information.
Nov. 27-29, 2009
 
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