Barbara Frum

Section 29, Lot 1043
York Cemetery

Born on September 8, 1937 in Niagara Falls, New York, USA, Barbara Frum (née Rosberg) grew up on Niagara Falls, Ontario. She studied history at the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a BA in 1959. In 1957, she married Toronto dentist Murray Frum, who later became a real-estate developer. They had two children and adopted a third, Matthew. A First Nations child whom the Frums adopted in the 1960s during the so-called Sixties Scoop, had problems as a teenager, and ultimately reclaimed his aboriginal roots and renewed contact with his birth parents. Her daughter, Linda Frum, is a Canadian senator and a member of the Canada-Israel Committee, and her son, David Frum became a political journalist and was a speechwriter for George W. Bush after he moved to the United States. After graduating, Frum undertook volunteer work in the community and began writing for the Toronto Star as a freelancer, specializing in social-issues stories. 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 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, first locally broadcast in Toronto until May 1975 before the program moved to the national CBC network for seven shows in June and July 1975. The shows featured both interviews with personalities and special segments devoted to isolated topics. 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 and Nelson Mandela. She angered many when, on December 7, 1989 on The Journal, 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, saying: “Why do we diminish it by suggesting that it was an act against just one group?” 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. Frum 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 on chronic leukemia on March 26, 1992, at the age of 54.

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