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By the Way: Robin Robinson reincarnated as the Rosenthals’ mom


What happened to Robin Robinson?

Under cover of the pandemic’s homebound isolation, she went from popular and dedicated Bucks County Recorder of Deeds to a social media influencer as star of “It’s the Rosenthals” on both Instagram and Tik Tok.

Suddenly this smart, capable, ultimate professional, was doing zany, irreverent things on video — dipping her nose into cake frosting; imitating Lily Tomlin; mimicking the foghorn voice of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos infamy; hugging a minion; musing that she’s going to a wedding and has three dates and wondering how to handle it.

She’s collecting fans and loving every minute of it as she entertains multitudes of viewers – most of whom tend to be far younger than she.

“I’m an influencer. I’m 63 and I’m an influencer,” said Robin. “Can you believe that?” she asked.

Robin was swept from office in the 2019 elections even though she received the largest number of votes ever recorded for any Democratic candidate in Bucks’ history. It was a bitter loss. She worked hard, knocked on more than 4,000 doors. (She’ll tell you exactly how many.)

After the ballots were counted, Robin found herself temporarily unemployed and a bit unmoored. Her children came to the rescue. Emma and Sam Rosenthal, like many 20-somethings, moved back home to Warwick Township during the pandemic.

Thinking Robin needed cheering up, Emma and Sam introduced her to social media. But even before that, Robin had said something so funny during a phone conversation that Emma, who was studying in Chicago, asked her mother to repeat it on a quick video. Emma posted it on social media and people loved it. That’s when the concept for “It’s the Rosenthals” was born.

It turned out that Robin is a natural comedienne, so good at being goofy, even outrageous, in 20-second shots, she has drawn more than 450,000 followers on Tik Tok and more than 100,000 on Instagram. She’s sometimes so funny and so enthusiastic, her children laughingly have to rein her in.

Although Robin’s the star, she points to the talents of both Emma and Sam, who share a blazing sense of humor. They sometimes appear with her in the brief videos or can be heard, laughing off-camera and urging her on. Both of them graduated from Central Bucks East: Emma went on to Muhlenberg College and Sam to West Chester University. Emma earned a master’s degree in screenwriting at DePaul University.

Emma has completed a pilot show for television and has the go-ahead to do 12 episodes. She also is head field hockey coach at CB East and swim coach at Maplewood Swim Club in Upper Southampton.

Sam is an accountant at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia but does stand-up comedy on the side, a passion temporarily derailed by the pandemic. Both Emma and Sam have more than a little comedic and dramatic know-how.

While Emma handles directorial and production duties, Sam is more involved in the business side of the enterprise. “I’m learning about social media, how to get viewers, how to brand the product and turn it into cash,” he said.

The Rosenthals have already done a commercial for Amazon and are working on other commercials. They’ve also partnered with What Do You Meme?, creator of adult party games, Sam said.

Many of the videos were spur-of-the moment. For example, during a Father’s Day visit to the grave of Mark Rosenthal, Robin’s husband and their father, who died in 2010, they made a silly video, with Robin splitting her pancake and giving half to Mark. Much to their surprise the Rosenthals got so many responses from people who had lost loved ones. “So many people were pleased that we were reaching out, for bringing laughter into their world of grief,” Emma said. Robin added, “It was just a natural extension for us because we’ve volunteered with Safe Harbor, a grief counseling service in Abington.”

Actually, all the Rosenthals’ videos were designed to produce at least a smile or deliver outright laughter, a truly welcome and silly bright spot in a world torn by the anxieties of summer shark bites and city gangs, disease and political deceit, war and wildfires.

Someone has to break the ugly chain that threatens to bind us. This family has aced it.

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Warwick Township