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Barbara Frum, OC

Barbara Frum

Birth name Barbara Rosberg
Born September 8, 1937(1937-09-08)
Niagara Falls, New York, USA
Died March 26, 1992 (aged 54)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Show As It Happens
Network(s) CBC Radio
Show The Journal
Network(s) CBC Television
Country Canada
Spouse(s) Murray Frum
Children David Frum
Linda Frum
Matthew Frum

Barbara Frum, OC (September 8, 1937 – March 26, 1992) was a Canadian radio and television journalist, acclaimed for her interviews for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.


Personal life

Born Barbara Rosberg in Niagara Falls, New York, Frum grew up across the river in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She studied history at the University of Toronto. She married Toronto dentist Murray Frum, who later became a real estate developer, in 1957. They had two children and adopted a third.


After her graduation, Frum worked as a radio commentator and magazine writer. In 1971, she joined CBC Radio as one of the first hosts of As It Happens, a newsmagazine program which used the telephone to conduct live interviews with newsmakers and other witnesses to news events, as well as quirky human interest stories. Frum's skills as a tough, incisive and well-informed interviewer[1] quickly made the program one of CBC Radio's most popular and enduring programs (it still airs today, in virtually the same format), and she continued to host until 1981.

Between October 1974 and July 1975, she hosted her own self-titled talk show.

Frum won the National Press Club of Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Journalism in 1975. She was named to the Order of Canada in 1979.[1]

In 1981, CBC Television created The Journal, a newsmagazine series which would follow The National each night at 10:22 p.m., and Frum and Mary Lou Finlay were hired as the show's hosts. On January 11, 1982, The Journal debuted as a showcase for features which delved more deeply into the day's news than the traditional newscast format of The National.

The show included field reports, short documentaries, public forums, debates, business, sports, and arts and science news, but Frum's interviews were the show's centrepiece, and made it one of Canadian television's most popular programs. After the first year, Frum became the sole host of the program, although Finlay continued to be associated with the program as a reporter and documentarian. Frum interviewed many notable people, including British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher[2] and Nelson Mandela.

She angered many in 1989 when she refused to acknowledge that the École Polytechnique massacre by a killer who proclaimed as he shot and stabbed women, "I hate feminists!" was an attack on women and feminism. "Why do we diminish it by suggesting that it was an act against just one group?" Frum said December 7, 1989 on The Journal.[3]

Frum was frequently parodied on CODCO by Greg Malone, whose portrayal involved the recurring catchphrase "But are you bitter?" Frum and Malone (in his Frum drag) also presented a Gemini Award together.

She was also the inspiration for the muppet "Barbara Plum", host of "The Notebook", on Canadian Sesame Street (later reworked as Sesame Park). In the Canadian animated series The Raccoons, Frum herself portrayed a reporter called "Barbara LaFrum", who interviewed Cyril Sneer after his pigs told her of his unsavoury business practices.


Frum died of leukemia on March 26, 1992. That evening, virtually the entire broadcasts of both The National and The Journal were a tribute to her and a retrospective of her career. Among the many tributes to her was an editorial cartoon depicting her at the gates of heaven with a reporter's notebook, insisting on interviewing God. Several other editorial cartoons simply depicted The Journal's set with an empty anchor chair.

Following her death, instead of hiring a new host for The Journal the CBC radically revamped its entire approach to news programming, The National and The Journal were merged into a new program called Prime Time News.


Frum's three children were David, Linda and Matthew. Her son David was a presidential speech writer for George W. Bush and is currently a researcher with the American Enterprise Institute. Her daughter Linda is the author of a biography of her mother and in August 2009 was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Harper.

The atrium in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto was named in Frum's honour.[4]

Shortly after her death, the North York Public Library branch (now Toronto Public Library) at 20 Covington Rd was named in honour of Barbara Frum for her accomplishments as a distinguished broadcaster and journalist.


External links



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