Wednesday 31 August 2016

Barbara Frum: Prime Ministers, Political Prisoners & The Vulcan Nerve Pinch

Barbara Rosberg, born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1937, was the daughter of a Polish Jewish immigrant father and New York City bred mother.  She attended the University of Toronto where she graduated with a BA in 1959.  Married to dentist Murray Frum, the couple had two children and adopted a third.

After graduation, Barbara Frum worked as a freelance writer for the Toronto Star, focussing on social issue pieces.  In 1973, she was hired by CBC Radio to host As It Happens, a newsmagazine program which conducted live interviews.  Frum started to develop a reputation as a "tough, incisive, well informed interviewer" (


In 1981, Frum debuted on The Journal, a TV show following The National which delved deeper into the feature stories.  Frum interviewed major political figures such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  In 1969, Leonard Nimoy explained the vulcan nerve pinch to the Canadian broadcaster and in 1990, South African political prisoner Nelson Mandela granted her an interview on the very day he was released in 1990 (

Frum was diagnosed with a form of chronic leukemia in 1974.  Eighteen years later she succumbed to the disease.  A predominantly Jewish area of Toronto named its library after Barbara Frum as well as a CBC Toronto atrium.

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