2017-10-25 / Home

The real Beverly Goldberg sorts out true Goldberg tales at KBA fundraiser

KBA parent Jamie Richman shares a moment with the real Beverly Goldberg at the Oct. 24 KBA fundraiserKBA parent Jamie Richman shares a moment with the real Beverly Goldberg at the Oct. 24 KBA fundraiserBy JAYNE JACOVA FELD

Voice staff

According to the real Beverly Goldberg, “The Goldbergs”--as portrayed in ABC’s hit Prime Time TV show set “sometime in the 1980s”--is a toned-down, “Disneyfied” version of the michigas (craziness) that was her family.

Yes, patriarch Murray Goldberg really did strip down to his tighty-whiteys before entering the family’s Jenkintown home after work. But her actual family was a lot cruder, louder and she a far stricter disciplinarian than the TV Beverly as portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey.

And while she and other family members sometimes take issue with a plot line or two, the weekly series, that revolves around real-life videotapes her youngest son Adam, the show’s creator, shot in the 1980s, always contain a kernel of truth, she conceded during “A Night with the Real Beverly Goldberg” at Kellman Brown Academy on Oct. 24. Besides, McLendon-Covey makes her look good.

“The obsessiveness of her portrayal is a good version of me,” said Goldberg, who now lives in Margate with her second husband Stan (Murray--played by Jeff Garlin--died in 2008 of cancer) and winters in Florida. “I think I was a lot worse. I am willing to admit that.”

Sitting beside a vintage poster board from Adam’s bar mitzvah, Goldberg spent a quick hour parsing out truth from fiction, fielding questions about how friends and family react to seeing themselves portrayed as sitcom characters and explaining the journey of the youngest of her three sons--the only one who didn’t follow their Jewish father’s footsteps into the medical field.

The event, KBA’s fall fundraiser, raised more than $10,000 for the Jewish day school in Voorhees and brought some 250 people to the sell-out event. Although Beverly does not make a habit of public events, she graciously made the appearance on the request of KBA parent Jamie Richman, who happens to be related to the famous family.

Beverly’s first memories of Adam behind a camcorder take place on the Ocean City boardwalk.

“He was six or seven and he would go up to people to interview them,” she recalled. “He would say he was doing a special for CNN and people would talk to him. They really thought he was doing a special for CNN?”

By eight, Adam declared that he wanted to write for TV and movies for a living. Beverly said she never discouraged him from pursuing his passion, although his habit of using real life in his fictional scripts could be off-putting.

“He started writing things all the time,” she said. “My friends got to the point that they didn’t want to talk in front of him because their stories would be in a script.”

By age 14, young Adam was spending so much time shooting films--holed up writing and editing in his room--that his mother became concerned he would have little to put on college applications. As a result, she gathered together 40 or so of his scripts to enter into writing competitions. That’s when Beverly realized how truly talented he was.

“It was one summer that was just crazy,” she recalled. “Whenever I sent in his plays for contests, if there were 50 applicants, he was one of the winners. If there were 100 applicants, he was a winner. If there were 1,000 applicants, he was one of the winners.”

When an original play was chosen among 10,000 applicants, it sort of went to his head, she said. His works were being shown across the country while he was in his teens. Among accolades, Adam was named to the 1992 Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival for his play “Dr. Pickup”— written when he was 15. But the most notable was when his dramady “The Purple Heart” was produced at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. His name on the kiosk was given top billing. Underneath was “also appearing Itzhak Perlman.”

Years later, when Adam was in talks about creating a show based on his family, he thought to call it “The Silvers,” largely to avoid risk of offending family and friends. It was actually ABC that insisted on using the real family name, given that one of the first comedy dramas on TV (1949-57) was “The Goldbergs.” It was about a Jewish family that lived in NYC and moved to the suburbs in the last season.

The second coming of “The Goldbergs” got off to a rocky start, Beverly said, noting that critics found the family annoying and some found it too Jewish and some simply couldn’t understand a functional family was that crazy, which was one of the reasons Adam includes so many pictures and movie clips of his real family in action.

“He had to keep telling people it is not a show about Jews,” she said. “It is about growing up in the 80s in a typical American family that happened to be Jewish.”

Anti-Semitism early on was an issue too. However, now in the fifth season, the show is a hit worldwide, including in Israel and Germany.

An unanticipated consequence is Beverly’s own stardom turn. Her twitter account, @goldilocks405, has more than 17,000 followers. She often posts pictures of the family or comments about the show.

“Every day, I get up to 35 messages of people telling me to have a good day,” she said. “My kids don’t call but I get all these twitter messages from strangers.”

For Diana Magid Cohen, a Cherry Hill mother of three, the night was more than satisfying, especially learning the story behind the stories on her favorite TV show.

“She was so entertaining,” said Cohen, who grew up during the 1980s in Abington, one town over from the Goldbergs. “She could have talked for another hour and everyone would have been into it.” 

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