Tag Archives: Radio

Jews of the Week: Dear Abby & Ann Landers

The Most Quoted Women in the World

Pauline Esther Phillips and Esther Pauline Lederer, aka. Abigail van Buren and Ann Landers

Pauline Esther Phillips (1918-2013) was born in Iowa to the Friedmans, poor Jewish immigrants from Russia. Despite their poverty, the Friedman home was always full of guests, where Pauline picked up both her humour and advice-giving abilities. She studied psychology and journalism in college, then moved to San Francisco, where she was unhappy with the advice column of the San Francisco Chronicle. Phillips phoned the newspaper’s editor and told him she could do a far better job. After seeing her samples, she was hired immediately – without any prior work experience or even a social security number! Pauline chose the pen name Abigail, after the Biblical prophetess who advised King David. Thus was born “Dear Abby”, the most-widely syndicated newspaper column of all time – read by over 110 million readers across 1400 newspapers. In 1963, Dear Abby also became a daily radio program that ran for 13 years. People around the world fell in love with Abby’s compassion, honesty, humour, and “tough love”, while learning about the most difficult of human and family problems. Phillips herself was devoted to her family, and was famous for her dedication to her husband and conservative family values – advising couples not to live together before marriage, and telling women to be strong in the face of “masculine lunacy”, with divorce a very last resort. Her own marriage lasted 73 years, until her death this past January at age 94, following a battle with Alzheimer’s. Most interestingly, Pauline Esther had a twin sister named Esther Pauline (1918-2002), who was also a journalist and wrote an advice column under the name Ann Landers – nearly as popular as Dear Abby, with over 90 million readers. Both sisters married on the same day, their birthday. Life magazine billed the two as the most “widely read and most quoted women in the world.”

Words of the Week

“He’s one of the greatest men I ever met, but he’ll be a Jew before I’m a Catholic.”
Pauline Phillips, aka Abby, referring to her friend, Bishop Fulton Sheen

Jew of the Week: Gertrude Berg

America’s Jewish Mother

Gertrude Berg as "America's Jewish mother" Molly Goldberg

Gertrude Berg as “America’s Jewish mother” Molly Goldberg

Tilly Edelstein (1898-1966) was born in Harlem, a grandaughter of Jewish-Russian immigrants from Poland. Her parents ran a boarding house, where Tilly grew up entertaining the guests on a regular basis (and where she met her husband Lewis Berg). In 1929, Tilly wrote a short and humourous radio skit about a Jewish family in New York (based loosely on her own family). NBC considered her manuscript, but the radio executive couldn’t understand her writing, so Berg acted it out for him. Not only did NBC pick up her show, but they made an agreement that she would be its lead actress. Thus was born The Rise of the Goldbergs, an instant hit that ran over 5000 episodes, all of which were hand-written by Berg herself. In 1948, it was adapted as a Broadway musical, and in 1949 to a television show called The Goldbergs, which many consider to be America’s first sit-com. It is also credited with stemming the tide of anti-Semitism in the U.S., and bridging the gap between Jews and Gentiles. Starting out with a salary of $75 per week, Gertrude was earning $2000 a week just two years later – at the height of the Great Depression! Berg was beloved across America, and would later star in many other movies and television shows, winning Emmy and Tony Awards along the way. She was also a noted songwriter and Hollywood screenwriter. Sadly, she passed away of a heart attack in the midst of filming her latest movie. The New York Times reported: “Gertrude Berg was a writer and actress who brought out the humanity, love and respect that people should have toward each other. Her contributions to American radio, television, films and stage will always be remembered…”

Words of the Week

Every Jew, man or woman, possesses enough moral and spiritual strength to influence friends and acquaintances, and bring them into the light.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Hayom Yom, Cheshvan 5)

Jew of the Week: Ruth Westheimer

Dr. Ruth

Dr. Ruth: Beloved Therapist, Deadly Sniper

Karola Ruth Siegel was born in Germany to an Orthodox Jewish family. Orphaned by the Holocaust, she migrated to Israel at 17 and joined the Haganah defence force, fighting in the 1948 War of Independence as a sniper (“For some strange reason,” she says, “I can put five bullets into that red thing in the middle of the target.”) After recovering from injuries sustained by a nearby exploding shell, Ruth studied psychology at the University of Paris. From there she immigrated to the U.S., receiving a PhD in human sexuality. In 1980, she was invited to do a 15-minute radio segment discussing sex. That transformed into one of the most popular radio shows of all time, featuring “Dr. Ruth”, which quickly became a household name. Later a television program, Dr. Ruth remains the most well-known sex therapist in America. She wrote several popular books on the subject, taught at Princeton and Yale, won a Leo Baeck Medal for humanitarian work, and still belongs to two Manhattan synagogues.

Words of the Week

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that, in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.
Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of DNA structure