ENTERTAINMENT HONOREE ― MOLLY PICON

Plaque designed by Eugene Daub, produced by Jim Licaretz, unique bonded bronze.
Portrait, Molly Picon, name in English and Yiddish, DAUB, approx. 10 inches.
No medals made.

Molly Picon was born on New York’s Lower East Side on February 28, 1898.  Her first performance was in a talent show at the age of five, where she won first prize ― a Five Dollar Gold Coin.

In the early 1920’s, Picon’s career took off on the American Yiddish stage, playing parts written for her by her husband, Jacob Kalich — such as Yonkele (Little Yonkel), Tzipke, Shmendrik (Loser), Gypsy Girl, Molly Dolly, Little Devil, and Mamale (Mommy). Picon made her film debut in European productions, beginning with Das Judenmadel (The Jewish Girl), in Austria in 1921. In the midst of the Great Depression Kalich bought the Folks Theater at 12th Street and 2nd Avenue and grandly renamed it the Molly Picon Theater. In 1934, she began broadcasting her first radio show ― in Yiddish and English. Later, she starred in other radio programs ― I Give You My Life and Molly Picon’s Parade, a variety show. In 1937, Picon and Kalich filmed Yidl Mitn Fidl (Yiddle with his Fiddle) in Poland.

During WWII, Picon performed at army bases all over the U.S. and Canada in an effort to boost morale. Later, traveling at considerable peril to their own lives, Picon and Kalich were the first entertainers to tour D.P. (Displaced Persons) camps after the war.

In 1947, following her 17 year run on radio, Gertrude saw television as a new exciting media, and a new opportunity to reinvigorate and reintroduce The Goldbergs following World War II. After a stage play, The Goldbergs premiered on CBS in 1949. Gertrude Berg was lead writer, star, and producer yet again, and The Goldbergs climbed in popularity.

Star Award

Here is the star celebrating Molly Picon and her husband Jacob Kalich on the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame on 2nd Avenue and 1oth Street.

In 1950, Gertrude Berg won the first best actress Emmy Award in history, she had a clothing line for housewives, published a cookbook, and wrote an advice column called Mama Talks. Her television show was made into a movie called Molly by Paramount Pictures — with Berg on set and in the editing room, exerting her influence as screenwriter and producer.

The Goldbergs eventually moved from the Bronx to the suburbs, and continued until 1954, after which Berg also wrote and produced a syndicated film version that remained on the air for another few years.

Gertrude Berg went on to star in theatrical productions, and won a Tony in 1959 for best actress in A Majority of One. She appeared in a television presentation of The Word of Sholom Aleichem in the same year, and then returned to television as writer and star in Mrs. G Goes to College, which later became known as The Gertrude Berg Show. Gertrude Berg was the highest paid guest star at the time, and appeared with Steve Allen, Milton Berle, and Perry Como. Her pioneering show The Goldbergs blazed the trail for I Love Lucy and all other sitcoms to follow.

Click Here to Take  Molly Picon Quiz