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Early Frum: A shaky start

The sudden death of Barbara Frum on March 26, 1992 shocked Canadians. The loss of one of the country's most respected broadcasters at the age of 54 reverberated across living rooms of the nation. The courage and tenacity she showed in her very private 18 year battle with leukemia was reflected in her tough, pioneering interview style on CBC Radio's As it Happens and later on CBC Television's The Journal. Whether she was talking to Nelson Mandela, Harold Ballard or the grower of the world's biggest cabbage, Frum's unrelenting curiosity, her fearless search for the truth, and her empathy and humour made her one of Canada's most important broadcasters.

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Barbara Frum ventures into the world of journalism later in her life. Having married the love of her life at 19, Frum happily spends much of her twenties being a doting wife, a devoted mother of three and an active volunteer. It is through her volunteer work that she makes her first foray into journalism in the mid-1960s. Encouraged by her husband, Dr. Murray Frum, and her mother, Florence Rosberg, she writes an exposé of a Toronto charity for the Toronto Star.

It would be the beginning of an illustrious career.
Frum quickly makes a name for herself and it isn't long before she becomes one of the hosts of CBC Television's The Way It Is.
Her initial venture into television journalism has a rocky start. One of Frum's early interviews is with Jacqueline Susann, the colourful author of the scandalous novel, Valley of the Dolls.

As a young woman trying to make her mark, Frum takes an aggressive stance. The interview ends up with the two women trading insults. Susann later complains about Frum to the Globe and Mail.
Frum described this interview as the worst of her career.
• Barbara Frum was born on Sept. 8, 1937 in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Her American-born mother, Florence, arranged to give birth in the United States because she wanted Barbara to have an American passport.
• Barbara's father, Harold Rosberg, was a pillar of society in Niagara Falls, Ont. He ran a successful clothing department store called Rosbergs.

• Frum's mother graduated from university, which was unusual for women of her generation.
• Barbara Frum graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in history in 1959.
Medium: Television
Program: The Way It Is
Broadcast Date: June 1, 1969
Guest(s): Jacqueline Susann
Host: John Saywell
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 7:57

Last updated: July 31, 2013

Page consulted on May 29, 2014

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