(born Mendel Berlinger; July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002)
was an American comedian and actor. Berle’s career as an entertainer
spanned over 80 years, first in silent films and on stage as a child
actor, then in radio, movies and television. As the host of NBC's
Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater
(1948–55), he was the first major American
television star and was known to millions of viewers as "Uncle
Miltie" and "Mr. Television" during TV's golden age.
1 Early life
2 Child actor
3.2 Rising star
3.4 Mr. Television
3.5 TV decline
3.6 Life after The
Milton Berle Show
3.7 Late career
4 Berle offstage
5 Personal life
6 Final role and death
7 Honors and awards
9 Selected filmography
11 Further reading
12 External links
12.1 Listen to
Milton Berle was born into a Jewish family in a five-story walkup
at 68 W. 118th Street in the
Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. His
given name was Mendel Berlinger. He chose
Milton Berle as his
professional name when he was 16. His father, Moses Berlinger
(1873–1938), was a paint and varnish salesman. His mother, Sarah
(Sadie) Glantz Berlinger (1877–1954), changed her name to Sandra
Berle when Milton became famous.
Berle entered show business at the age of five when he won an amateur
talent contest. He appeared as a child actor in silent films,
beginning with The Perils of Pauline, filmed in Fort Lee, New
Jersey. The director told Berle that he would portray a little boy
who would be thrown from a moving train. In Milton Berle: An
Autobiography, he explained, "I was scared shitless, even when he went
on to tell me that Pauline would save my life. Which is exactly what
happened, except that at the crucial moment they threw a bundle of
rags instead of me from the train. I bet there are a lot of comedians
around today who are sorry about that."
By Berle's account, he continued to play child roles in other films:
Bunny's Little Brother, Tess of the Storm Country, Birthright, Love's
Penalty, Divorce Coupons and Ruth of the Range. Berle recalled, "There
were even trips out to Hollywood—the studios paid—where I got
parts in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, with Mary Pickford; The Mark of
Zorro, with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Tillie's Punctured Romance,
with Charlie Chaplin,
Mabel Normand and Marie Dressler." In 1916,
Berle enrolled in the Professional Children's School.
Around 1920, at age 12, Berle made his stage debut in a revival of the
Florodora in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which later
moved to Broadway. By the time he was 16, he was working as a Master
of Ceremonies in Vaudeville. By the early 1930s he was a successful
stand-up comedian, patterning himself after one of Vaudeville's top
comics, Ted Healy.
In Poppin' the Cork, 1933
In 1933, he was hired by producer Jack White to star in the theatrical
featurette Poppin' the Cork, a topical musical comedy concerning the
repealing of Prohibition. Berle also co-wrote the score for this film,
which was released by Educational Pictures. Berle continued to dabble
in songwriting. With
Ben Oakland and Milton Drake, Berle wrote the
title song for the
RKO Radio Pictures
RKO Radio Pictures release Li'l Abner (1940), an
adaptation of Al Capp's comic strip, featuring
Buster Keaton as
Lonesome Polecat. Berle wrote a
Spike Jones B-side, "Leave the
Dishes in the Sink, Ma."
From 1934–36, Berle was heard regularly on The
Rudy Vallee Hour, and
he attracted publicity as a regular on The Gillette Original Community
Sing, a Sunday night comedy-variety program broadcast on CBS from
September 6, 1936 to August 29, 1937. In 1939, he was the host of Stop
Me If You've Heard This One with panelists spontaneously finishing
jokes sent in by listeners.
Berle in 1943
In the late 1940s, he canceled well-paying nightclub appearances to
expand his radio career. Three Ring Time, a comedy-variety show
sponsored by Ballantine Ale, was followed by a 1943 program sponsored
by Campbell's Soups. The audience participation show Let Yourself Go
(1944–1945) could best be described as "slapstick radio"[citation
needed] with studio audience members acting out long suppressed
urges—often directed at host Berle. Kiss and Make Up, on CBS in
1946, featured the problems of contestants decided by a jury from the
studio audience with Berle as the judge. Berle also made guest
appearances on many comedy-variety radio programs during the 1930s and
Hal Block and Martin Ragaway, The
Milton Berle Show
brought Berle together with Arnold Stang, later a familiar face as
Berle's TV sidekick. Others in the cast were Pert Kelton, Mary Schipp,
Jack Albertson, Arthur Q. Bryan, Ed Begley, Brazilian singer Dick
Farney, and announcer Frank Gallop. Sponsored by Philip Morris, it
NBC from March 11, 1947 until April 13, 1948.
Berle later described this series as "the best radio show I ever did
... a hell of a funny variety show". It served as a springboard for
Berle's emergence as television's first major star.
Berle would revive the structure and routines of his vaudeville act
for his debut on TV. His first TV series was The Texaco
Star Theatre, which began September 22, 1948 on ABC and continued
until June 15, 1949 with cast members Stang, Kelton and Gallop, along
with Charles Irving, Kay Armen, and double-talk specialist Al Kelly.
Writers included Nat Hiken, brothers Danny and Neil Simon, Leo Fuld
and Aaron Ruben.
The show began with Berle rotating hosting duties with three other
comedians, but in October he became the permanent host. Berle's highly
visual style, characterized by vaudeville slapstick and outlandish
costumes, proved ideal for the new medium. Berle modeled the
show's structure and skits directly from his vaudeville shows, and
hired writer Hal Collins to revive his old routines.
When the show moved to NBC, it dominated Tuesday night television for
the next several years, reaching the number one slot in the Nielsen
ratings with as much as an 80% share of the viewing audience. Berle
and the show each won
Emmy Awards after the first season. Fewer movie
tickets were sold on Tuesdays. Some theaters, restaurants and other
businesses shut down for the hour or closed for the evening so their
customers would not miss Berle's antics. Berle's autobiography
notes that in Detroit, "an investigation took place when the water
levels took a drastic drop in the reservoirs on Tuesday nights between
9 and 9:05. It turned out that everyone waited until the end of the
Texaco Star Theatre
Texaco Star Theatre before going to the bathroom."
Television set sales more than doubled after Texaco Star Theatre's
debut, reaching two million in 1949. Berle's stature as the medium's
first superstar earned him the sobriquet "Mr. Television". He also
earned another nickname after ending a 1949 broadcast with a brief
ad-libbed remark to children watching the show: "Listen to your Uncle
Miltie and go to bed."
Francis Craig and Kermit Goell's Near You
became the theme song that closed Berle's TV shows.
Berle risked his newfound TV stardom at its zenith to challenge Texaco
when the sponsor tried to prevent black performers from appearing on
I remember clashing with the advertising agency and the sponsor over
my signing the Four Step Brothers for an appearance on the show. The
only thing I could figure out was that there was an objection to black
performers on the show, but I couldn't even find out who was
objecting. "We just don't like them," I was told, but who the hell was
"we"? Because I was riding high in 1950, I sent out the word: "If they
don't go on, I don't go on." At ten minutes of eight—ten minutes
before showtime—I got permission for the Step Brothers to appear. If
I broke the color-line policy or not, I don't know, but later on I had
no trouble booking
Bill Robinson or Lena Horne.
Berle's mother Sadie was often in the audience for his broadcasts; she
had long served as a "plant" to encourage laughter from his stage show
audiences. Her unique, "piercing, roof-shaking laugh" would
stand out, especially when Berle made an entrance in an outrageous
costume. After feigning surprise he would "ad lib" a response; for
example: "Lady, you've got all night to make a fool of yourself. I've
only got an hour!"
NBC to switch from live broadcasts to film, which would
have made possible reruns (and residual income from them); he was
angered when the network refused. However,
NBC did consent to make a
kinescope of each show. Later, Berle was offered 25% ownership of a
company manufacturing the teleprompter by its inventor, Irving Berlin
Kahn, if he would simply use the new gadget on his program. He turned
the offer down.
For Berle's contribution to television, he was inducted to the
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
At one million dollars a year,
NBC signed him to an exclusive,
unprecedented 30-year television contract in 1951.
Texaco pulled out of sponsorship of the show in 1953. Buick picked it
up, prompting a renaming to The Buick-Berle Show, and the program's
format was changed to show the backstage preparations to put on a
variety show. Critics generally approved of the changes, but Berle's
ratings continued to fall, and Buick pulled out after two seasons.
In addition, "Berle's persona had shifted from the impetuous and
aggressive style of the
Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater days to a more cultivated,
but less distinctive personality, leaving many fans somehow
By the time the again-renamed
Milton Berle Show finished its only full
season (1955–56), Berle was already becoming history—though his
final season was host to two of Elvis Presley's earliest television
appearances, April 3 and June 5, 1956. The final straw during that
last season may have come from CBS scheduling The
Phil Silvers Show
opposite Berle. Ironically, Silvers was one of Berle's best friends in
show business and had come to CBS's attention in an appearance on
Berle's program. Bilko's creator-producer, Nat Hiken, had been one of
Berle's radio writers.
Berle knew that
NBC had already decided to cancel his show before
Presley appeared. Berle later appeared in the Kraft Music Hall
series from 1958 to 1959, but
NBC was finding increasingly fewer
showcases for its one-time superstar. By 1960, he was reduced to
hosting a bowling program, Jackpot Bowling, delivering his quips and
interviewing celebrities between the efforts of that week's bowling
Life after The
Milton Berle Show
In Las Vegas, Berle played to packed showrooms at Caesars Palace, the
Sands, the Desert Inn, and other casino hotels. Berle had appeared at
the El Rancho, one of the first Vegas hotels, in the late 1940s. In
addition to constant club appearances, Berle performed on Broadway in
The Goodbye People
The Goodbye People in 1968. He also became a commercial
spokesman for the thriving
Lum's restaurant chain.
He appeared in numerous films, including Always Leave Them Laughing
(released in 1949, shortly after his TV debut) with
Virginia Mayo and
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love with
Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand, It's
a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Loved One, The Oscar, Who's Minding
the Mint?, Lepke, Woody Allen's
Broadway Danny Rose
Broadway Danny Rose and Driving Me
Freed in part from the obligations of his
NBC contract, Berle was
signed in 1966 to a new, weekly variety series on ABC. The show failed
to capture a large audience and was cancelled after one season. He
later appeared as guest villain Louie the Lilac on ABC's Batman
series. Other memorable guest appearances included stints on The
Barbara Stanwyck Show, The Lucy Show, The
Jackie Gleason Show, Get
Smart, Laugh-In, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Hollywood
Palace, Ironside, F Troop, Fantasy Island, I Dream of Jeannie, CHiPs,
The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show and The Jack Benny Program.
Like his contemporary Jackie Gleason, Berle proved a solid dramatic
actor and was acclaimed for several such performances, most notably
his lead role in "Doyle Against the House" on
The Dick Powell Show
The Dick Powell Show in
1961, a role for which he received an
Emmy nomination. He also played
the part of a blind survivor of an airplane crash in Seven in
Darkness, the first in ABC's popular Movie of the Week series. (He
also played it straight as an agent in The Oscar (1966) and was one of
the few actors in that infamous flop to get good notices from
During this period, Berle was named to the Guinness Book of World
Records for the greatest number of charity performances made by a
show-business performer. Unlike the high-profile shows done by Bob
Hope to entertain the troops, Berle did more shows, over a period of
50 years, on a lower-profile basis. Berle received an award for
entertaining at stateside military bases in
World War I
World War I as a child
performer, in addition to traveling to foreign bases during World War
II and the Vietnam War. The first charity telethon (for the Damon
Runyon Cancer Research Foundation) was hosted by Berle in
1949. A permanent fixture at charity benefits in the Hollywood
area, he was instrumental in raising millions for charitable causes.
On April 14, 1979, Berle guest-hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Berle's long reputation for taking control of an entire television
production—whether invited to do so or not—was a cause of stress
on the set. One of the show's writers, Rosie Shuster, described the
rehearsals for the Berle SNL show and the telecast as "watching a
comedy train accident in slow motion on a loop." Upstaging, camera
mugging, doing spit-takes, inserting old comedy bits, and climaxing
the show with a maudlin performance of "September Song" complete with
a pre-arranged standing ovation (something producer
Lorne Michaels had
never sanctioned) resulted in Berle being banned from hosting the show
again. The episode was also barred from being rerun until surfacing in
2003, because Michaels thought it brought down the show's
As a guest star on The Muppet Show, Berle was memorably upstaged
by the heckling theatre critics Statler and Waldorf. The Statler
and Waldorf puppets were inspired by a character named Sidney
Spritzer, played by comedian Irving Benson, who regularly heckled
Berle from a box seat during episodes of the 1960s ABC series. Milton
Berle also made a cameo appearance in
The Muppet Movie
The Muppet Movie as a used car
dealer, taking Fozzie Bear's 1951 Studebaker in trade for a station
In 1974, Berle had a minor altercation with younger actor/comedian
Richard Pryor when both appeared as guests on The Mike Douglas Show.
At the time, Berle was discussing the emotional fallout from an
experience he had with impregnating a woman he was not married to, and
having to decide whether or not they would keep the child. During his
talk, Pryor let out a laugh, to which Berle took exception and
confronted him, stating, "I wish, I wish, Richard, that I could have
laughed at that time at your age, when I was your age, the way you
just laughed now, but I just couldn't... I told you this nine years
ago, and now I'll tell you on the air in front of millions of people:
Pick your spots, baby." This prompted Pryor to mockingly quip back,
"All right, sweetheart."
Berle at the
41st Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989
Another well-known incident of upstaging occurred during the 1982 Emmy
Awards, when Berle and
Martha Raye were the presenters of the
Outstanding Writing. Berle was reluctant to give up the microphone to
the award's recipients, from Second City Television, and interrupted
actor/writer Joe Flaherty's acceptance speech several times. After
Flaherty made a joke, Berle replied sarcastically "That's funny!"
However, Flaherty's response of "Sorry, Uncle Miltie... go to sleep"
flustered Berle. SCTV later created a parody sketch of the
incident, in which Flaherty beats up a Berle look-alike, shouting,
"You'll never ruin another acceptance speech, Uncle Miltie!"
One of his most popular performances in his later years was guest
starring in 1992 in
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as womanizing,
wise-cracking patient Max Jakey. Most of his dialogue was improvised
and he shocked the studio audience by mistakenly blurting out a curse
word. He also appeared in an acclaimed and Emmy-nominated turn on
Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210 as an aging comedian befriended by Steve Sanders,
who idolizes him, but is troubled by his bouts of senility due to
Alzheimer's disease. He also voiced the Prince of Darkness, the main
antagonist in the Canadian animated television anthology special The
Real Story of Au Clair De La Lune. He also appeared in 1995 as a guest
star in an episode of
The Nanny in the part of her lawyer and great
Berle appeared in drag in the video for "Round and Round" by the 1980s
Ratt (his nephew Marshall Berle was then their manager).
In 1985, he appeared on NBC's
Amazing Stories (created by Steven
Spielberg) in an episode called "Fine Tuning". In this episode,
friendly aliens from space receive TV signals from the Earth of the
1950s and travel to
Hollywood in search of their idols, Lucille Ball,
Jackie Gleason, The Three Stooges, Burns and Allen, and Milton Berle.
(When he realizes the aliens are doing his old material, Uncle Miltie
is thunderstruck: "Stealing from Berle? Is that even possible?")
Speaking gibberish, Berle is the only person able to communicate
directly with the aliens.
Berle was again on the receiving end of an onstage jibe at the 1993
MTV Video Music Awards
MTV Video Music Awards where
RuPaul responded to Berle's reference of
having once worn dresses himself (during his old television days) with
the quip that Berle now wore diapers. A surprised Berle replied by
recycling a line he had delivered to
Henny Youngman on his Hollywood
Palace show in 1966: "Oh, we're going to ad lib? I'll check my brain
and we'll start even."
Milton Berle founded the
Friars Club of Beverly Hills
Friars Club of Beverly Hills at the
old Savoy Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Other founding members included
Jimmy Durante, George Jessel, Robert Taylor, and Bing Crosby. In 1961,
the club moved to Beverly Hills. The Friars is a private show business
club famous for its celebrity members and roasts, where a member is
mocked by his club friends in good fun.
Unlike many of his peers, Berle's offstage lifestyle did not include
drugs or drinking, but did include cigars, a "who's who" list of
beautiful women, and a lifelong addiction to gambling, primarily horse
racing. Some felt his obsession with "the ponies" was responsible for
Berle never amassing the wealth or business success of others in his
Berle was famous within show business for the rumored size of his
Phil Silvers once
told a story about standing next to Berle at a urinal, glancing down,
and quipping, "You'd better feed that thing, or it's liable to turn on
you!" In the short story 'A Beautiful Child', Truman
Marilyn Monroe as saying: "Christ! Everybody says Milton
Berle has the biggest schlong in Hollywood." At a memorial service
for Berle at the New York Friars' Club,
Freddie Roman solemnly
announced, "On May 1st and May 2nd, his penis will be buried."
Radio shock jock
Howard Stern also barraged Berle with an endless
array of penis questions when the comedian appeared on Stern's morning
talk show on Aug 5, 1988 (Berle was also a guest on the Stern show
on Oct 30, 1996). In Berle's 1988 appearance, when fielding phone
calls, Stern purposely asked his producer to only air callers whose
questions dealt with Berle's penis. In his autobiography,
Berle tells of a man who accosted him in a steam bath and challenged
him to compare sizes, leading a bystander to remark, "go ahead,
Milton, just take out enough to win". Berle attributed this line
Jackie Gleason and said: "It was maybe the funniest
spontaneous line I ever heard".
Though he "worked clean" for his entire onstage and onscreen career,
except for the infamous Friars Club private celebrity roasts, Berle
was known offstage to have a colorful vocabulary and few limits on
when it was used. He often criticized younger comedians like Lenny
George Carlin for their X-rated humor, and challenged them
to be just as funny without the four-letter words.
Hundreds of younger comics, including several comedy superstars, were
encouraged and guided by Berle. Despite some less than flattering
stories told about Berle being difficult to work with, his son, Bill,
maintains that Berle was a source of encouragement and technical
assistance for many new comics. Berle's son Bob backs up his brother's
statement. He was present many times during Berle's Las Vegas shows
and television guest appearances. Milton aided Fred Travalena, Ruth
Buzzi, John Ritter, Marla Gibbs, Lily Tomlin,
Dick Shawn and Will
Smith. At a taping of a Donny & Marie show episode, for example,
Marie Osmond recited a scripted joke routine to a studio
audience, to little response. The director asked for a retake, and the
Osmonds repeated the act, word for word, to even less response. A
third attempt, with no variation, proved dismal—until Milton Berle,
off-camera, went into the audience, pantomiming funny faces and
gestures. Ever the professional, Berle timed each gesture to coincide
with an Osmond punchline, so the dialogue seemed to be getting the
maximum laughs.
Milton Berle and Ruth Cosgrove Berle, 1979.
After twice marrying and divorcing showgirl Joyce Mathews, Berle
married publicist Ruth Cosgrove in 1953; she died in 1989. In
1989, Berle stated that his mother was behind the breakup of his
marriages to Mathews. He also said that she managed to damage his
previous relationships: "My mother never resented me going out with a
girl, but if I had more than three dates with one girl, Mama found
some way to break it up." He married a fourth time in 1992 to
Lorna Adams, a fashion designer 30 years his junior. He had three
children, Victoria (adopted by Berle and Mathews), William (adopted by
Berle and Cosgrove) and a biological son, Bob Williams, with showgirl
Junior Standish. Berle had two stepdaughters from his marriage to
Adams, Leslie and Susan Brown. He also had three grandchildren:
Victoria's sons James and Mathew, and William's son Tyler Roe, who
died in 2014.
Berle's autobiography contains many tales of his sexual exploits. He
claimed relationships with numerous famous women, including actresses
Marilyn Monroe and Betty Hutton, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, and
evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. The veracity of some of these
claims has been questioned. The McPherson story, in particular,
has been challenged by McPherson's biographer and her daughter,
In later life, Berle found comfort in Christian Science, and
subsequently characterized himself as "a Jew and a Christian
Scientist". Oscar Levant, when queried by
Jack Paar about Berle's
conversion, quipped, "Our loss is their loss."
Final role and death
Crypt of Milton Berle, at Hillside Memorial Park
Berle guest-starred as Uncle Leo in the Kenan & Kel special "Two
Heads Are Better than None", which premiered in 2000. This would be
his last acting role.
In April 2001 Berle announced that a malignant tumor had been found in
his colon, but he had declined surgery. Berle's wife said the
tumor was growing so slowly that it would take 10 to 12 years to
affect him in any significant or life-threatening way. One year after
the announcement, on March 27, 2002, Berle died in
Los Angeles from
colon cancer. He died on the same day as
Dudley Moore and Billy
Berle reportedly left arrangements to be buried with his second wife,
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Burbank, but his body
was cremated and interred at
Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver
City. (Warren Cowan, Berle's publicist, told The New York Times, "I
only know he told me he bought plots at Hillside, and it was his
idea.") In addition to his third wife, Lorna Adams, Berle was
survived by his adopted daughter Victoria, his biological son Bob
Williams, and his adopted son Bill.
Honors and awards
Berle won the
Emmy for Most Outstanding Kinescoped Personality in
1950, the same year his show, the Texaco Star Theater, won the Emmy
Kinescope Show. He was twice nominated for Emmys for his
acting, in 1962 and 1995. In 1979, Berle was awarded a special
Emmy Award, titled “Mr. Television.”
Hollywood Walk of Fame, on February 8, 1960, inducted Berle with
two stars, for television and radio.
Berle was in the first group of inductees into the Television Hall of
Fame in 1984.
On December 5, 2007,
Arnold Schwarzenegger and
Maria Shriver inducted Berle into the
California Hall of
Fame, located at The
California Museum for History, Women and the
Earl Carroll's Vanities of 1932 (1932) – revue – in the roles of
"Mortimer" in the sketch "Mourning Becomes Impossible", "Joe Miller,
Jr." in "What Price Jokes", "Frank" in "Two Sailors", "Paul" in "The
Cabinet of Doctor X", the "Announcer" in "Studio W.M.C.A." the
"Defendant" in "Trial by Jury" and "Milton" in "The Bar Relief"
Saluta (1934) – musical, co-lyricist and performer cast in the role
of "'Windy' Walker"
See My Lawyer (1939) – play – performer cast in the role of
Ziegfeld Follies of 1943 (1943) – revue – performer in the role of
"Cecil" in Counter Attack, "J. Pierswift Armour" in The Merchant of
Venison, "Perry Johnson" in Loves-A-Poppin, "Escamillio" in Carmen in
Zoot, "Charlie Grant" Mr Grant Goes To Washington, "'The Micromaniac'
Singer" and "'Hold That Smile' Dancer"
I'll Take the High Road (1943) – play – co-producer
Seventeen (1951) – musical – co-producer
The Goodbye People
The Goodbye People (1968) – performer cast in the role of "Max
1914: The Perils of Pauline
Fanchon the Cricket
Fanchon the Cricket as Bit Role (uncredited)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm as Bit Part (uncredited)
1920: The Mark of Zorro as Boy (uncredited)
1921: Little Lord Fauntleroy as Boy (uncredited)
1922: Tess of the Storm Country as Bit Role (uncredited)
Ruth of the Range as Bit Role (uncredited)
1933: Poppin' the Cork as Elmer Brown
New Faces of 1937
New Faces of 1937 as Wallington Wedge
Radio City Revels as Teddy Jordan
1940: Li'l Abner (title song with
Ben Oakland and Milton Drake)
Tall, Dark and Handsome
Tall, Dark and Handsome as Frosty Welch
The Great American Broadcast
The Great American Broadcast as Radio Announcer (scenes deleted)
Sun Valley Serenade
Sun Valley Serenade as Nifty Allen
1941: Rise and Shine as Seabiscuit
A Gentleman at Heart as Lucky Cullen
Whispering Ghosts as H.H. Van Buren
1942: Over My Dead Body as Jason Cordry
Margin for Error
Margin for Error as Moe Finkelstein
Always Leave Them Laughing
Always Leave Them Laughing as Kipling 'Kip' Cooper
Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour � "
Milton Berle Hides Out at The
Ricardo's" � Himself
The Bellboy as Himself / Bellboy (uncredited)
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love as Himself (uncredited)
The Ladies Man
The Ladies Man (1961) as Himself (scenes deleted)
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as J. Russell Finch
The Loved One
The Loved One as Mr. Kenton
1966: The Oscar as Kappy Kapstetter
Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title as Bookstore Customer with
1967: The Happening as Fred
Who's Minding the Mint?
Who's Minding the Mint? as Luther Burton
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows as The Movie Director: The 'In'
For Singles Only
For Singles Only as Mr Parker
1969: Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True
Happiness? as Goodtime Eddie Filth
Seven in Darkness as Sam Fuller
Evil Roy Slade
Evil Roy Slade as Harry Fern
Journey Back to Oz
Journey Back to Oz as The Cowardly Lion (voice)
Lepke as Mr. Meyer
1976: Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved
Hollywood as Blind Man
Let's Make a Deal
Let's Make a Deal (playing for a home viewer)
1978: Hey, Abbott! as Himself (voice)
The Muppet Movie
The Muppet Movie as Mad Man Mooney
1983: Cracking Up as Ms. Sultry
Broadway Danny Rose
Broadway Danny Rose as Himself
1984: The 1st TV Academy Hall of Fame as Himself � Winner
Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Pee-wee's Big Adventure as Himself (uncredited)
Amazing Stories as Himself
1988: Side by Side as Abe Mercer
Going Overboard as Himself (uncredited)
1991: Trabbi Goes to
Hollywood as Hotel Clerk
Shakes the Clown
Shakes the Clown as Male Clown Barfly (uncredited)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Max Jakey
1993: Matlock "The Last Laugh" as Harvey Chase
Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210 as Saul Howard
The Nanny as Uncle Manny
1995: Roseanne as Transvestite at Wedding (uncredited)
1996: Storybook as Illuzor
Two Heads Are Better Than None as Uncle Leo (final film role)
Milton Berle (obituary)". The Guardian. 29 March 2002. Retrieved 24
^ a b Museum of Broadcast Communications. "
Milton Berle (1908 –
Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative
Enterprise. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
^ a b Gluck, Robert. "How
Jewish television pioneer Milton Berle
inspired modern comedy stars". JNS.org.
Jewish and Israel news.
Retrieved 22 November 2014.
^ "Broadcast pioneer
NBC prepares for cable takeover" Miami Herald,
Nov. 16, 2009
^ Gary Baum (June 23, 2011). "L.A.'s Power Golf Clubs: Where the
Hollywood Elite Play". The
^ "Milton Berle's Mother Dies". The Tuscaloosa News. 1 June 1954.
Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ a b c "The Child Wonder". Time, 16 May 1949.
^ a b c "The Museum of Broadcast Communications – Encyclopedia of
^ a b c Newcomb, Horace. Editor, Encyclopedia of Television, vol. I,
Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, (1997) pp. 163-165
^ Entertainment Magazine: Astor Pictures, Li'l Abner (1940) Archived
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^ a b c d "The
Milton Berle Show". RadioArchives. Retrieved 2 February
^ a b Epstein, Lawrence J. (2002) The Haunted Smile: The Story of
Jewish Comedians in America, ch.6 The Magic Box, pp. 86–7,
Berle had hired the writer Hal Collins to revive old vaudeville,
burlesque and radio routines that Berle has used successfully. ... The
shows were clearly vaudeville brought into the home. ... Berle was the
ringmaster, the master of ceremonies who did his opening monologue and
introduced each new act. Keeping to his own vaudeville tradition of
entering into the acts of other performers, Berle often interrupted or
joined in the act. When "Buffalo Bob" Smith came on, Berle appeared
dressed as Howdy Doody.
^ a b Madigan, S.P.
Texaco Star Theatre
Texaco Star Theatre entry in Browne, Pat (2001)
The guide to United States popular culture, p.833, quotation:
Texaco Star emulated a vaudeville variety hour, with several guests
each week, including singers, comedians, ventriloquists, acrobats,
dramatic performances, and so forth.
^ Sackett, Susan (1993) p.1954 quotation:
When "Texaco" premiered on Tuesday, June 8, 1948, the format was
strictly vaudeville, a bill of dancers, jugglers, acrobats, guest
stars, and sketches-in short, it was simply a video version of the
already successful radio show that Berle had been doing for ABC on
^ Young, William H. and Young, Nancy K. (2010)
World War II
World War II and the
Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia,
Volume 1, p.706 quotation:
Radio exists as an aural medium, and no matter how physically animated
a performer may be or how clownish his or her costume ... Berle's
comedic gift shone in slapstick, something he had mastered in his
vaudeville experiences. Many radio stars found it difficult to make
the transition to TV ... Not so Berle. Radio had confined the
comedian, making him reliant on his wealth of jokes and little else.
... Berle clearly considered no costume too outlandish, no stunt too
^ Sackett, Susan (1993) Prime-time hits: television's most popular
network programs, 1950 p.1954 quotation:
The city of
Detroit was baffled when the reservoir water levels
dropped each Tuesday evening shortly after 9:00 pm An investigation
revealed that Detroit's citizens were waiting until Berle was off the
air to go to the bathroom; the simultaneous flushing of thousands of
toilets created havoc with Detroit's water works.
^ Milton Berle, Haskel Frankel (1974) Milton Berle: an autobiography,
with Haskel Frankel p.271
^ Berle, Milton; Frankel, Haskel, eds. (1974). Milton Berle: An
Autobiography. Delacorte Press. p. 337.
Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater / The
Milton Berle Show".
^ Milton Berle, Haskel Frankel (1974) Milton Berle: an autobiography,
with Haskel Frankel p.285
^ a b Kamm, Herbert (27 August 1958). "'Mr. TV' Is Coming Back".
Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ Humphrey, Hal (13 June 1968). "Berle Recalls Beginning of TV".
Toledo Blade. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ "Berle Traded For Gleason". Prescott Evening Courier. 20 December
1954. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
Milton Berle —
Milton Berle Show Archived 2007-01-23 at the
^ The Blue Moon Boys — The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke
and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 52.
^ Torre, Marie (11 March 1959). "
Milton Berle Not Moping". Lawrence
Journal-World. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ Ashe, Isobel (27 November 1960). "Berle's 'Jackpot Bowling' Is A
Really Striking Series". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
^  damonrunyon.org
^ "Milton Berle". IMDb.
^ Infamous moments in
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live history at zimbio.com,
retrieved June 27, 2013.
^ Best and Worst 'SNL' Hosts at xfinity.comcast.net, retrieved June
^ Garlen, Jennifer C.; Graham, Anissa M. (2009). Kermit Culture:
Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets. McFarland &
Company. p. 218. ISBN 078644259X.
Milton Berle Vs. Statler & Waldorf on YouTube
^ "This website is currently unavailable". afflictor.com.
^ "SCTV Wins 1982
Emmy For Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music
Program". Retrieved 18 March 2016.
^ Murray, Susan (2002). "Lessons from Uncle Miltie: Ethnic Masculinity
and Early Television's Vaudeo Star", in Small Screens, Big Ideas:
Television in the 1950s edited by Janet Thumin. New York: I.B.Tauris.
p. 86. ISBN 978-1860646829.
^ Misch, David (2012). Funny: The Book – Everything You Always
Wanted to Know About Comedy. Milwaukee WI: Applause Theater &
Cinema. ISBN 978-1557838292.
^ Freden, Marc (2010). Really!?!: A Memoir and Observations From A Man
Who's Lived Life 'Not Quite Famous Enough'. Xlibris. p. 154.
^ Sacks, Mike (2009). And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top
Humor Writers on their Craft. Cincinnati OH: Writers Digest.
p. 107. ISBN 978-1582975054.
^ Ross, Jeffrey (2009). I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls
Without Burning Bridges. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 106.
^ Churchwell, Sarah (2005). The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. New
York: Macmillan. p. 329. ISBN 0312425651.
^ Lillian Ross (20 May 2002). "Remembering Milton Berle". The New
^ "MarksFriggin.com – Stern Show News – Archive".
^ "Mark's Friggin' Stern Show News – October 1996".
^ Stern, Howard.
Howard Stern Miss America, 1995.
^ Stern, Howard and John Simons (1997). Private Parts. New York: Simon
and Schuster. pp. 492–493. ISBN 0-671-00944-3.
^ Paley, Maggie (2000). The Book of the Penis. New York: Grove Press.
p. 211. ISBN 0802136931.
^ Henry, David and Joe Henry (2013). Furious Cool:
Richard Pryor and
the World That Made Him. Chapel Hill NC: Algonquin Books.
^ a b "Milton Berle's Wife Dies". Merced Sun-Star. 20 April 1989.
Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ "Milton had to prove his manhood". The Spokesman-Review. 18 March
1989. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
^ After 42 year,
Milton Berle and his secret lovechild –
Scottsdale's Bob Williams – tell their story. Phoenix New Times
archive. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
^ a b "Milton Berle, 'Mr. Television,' Dies at 93". Washington Post.
March 28, 2002. Retrieved 2009-01-27. Milton Berle, 93, the old-time
vaudeville comic who earned the nickname "Mr. Television" for
introducing millions of Americans to the electronic medium during its
infancy and thereby helping to change the country forever, died
yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. Berle, who had been under
hospice care in recent weeks, learned last year that he had colon
cancer, the Associated Press reported.
^ Tyler Daniel Roe obituary.
July 9, 2014.
^ Klein, Joe (14 February 1983). "But Seriously, Folks, It's Uncle
Miltie". 16 (7): 56. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
^ Cox, R.L. The Verdict Is In. Heritage Committee,
^ Sutton, M.A.
Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of
Christian America. Harvard University Press (2009), p. 271.
^ Cox (2008), pp. 240-1
^ "The religion of Milton Berle, comedian, 'Mr. Television'".
^ Amos, D. (September 16, 2010). More About Oscar Levant.
SDJewishWorld.com archive. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
^ "Breaking News, Daily News and Videos – CNN.com". CNN.
^ "'Mr. Television,' Milton Berle, dead at 93". CNN. March 28, 2002.
Retrieved 2009-01-27. Berle, who had been in failing health in recent
years, died in his sleep while taking a nap, publicist Roger Neale
said. His wife, Lorna, was at home with him when he died. Berle is
also survived by two sons and a daughter. Funeral arrangements are
^ Unrest Over Final Rest (March 29, 2002). New York Times archive.
Retrieved July 8, 2014.
^ Milton Berle, TV's First Star As 'Uncle Miltie,' Dies at 93
Milton Berle http://www.reference.com/browse/milton+berle]
^ "'Mr. TV'
Milton Berle dies". Variety. March 27, 2002. Retrieved
June 24, 2014.
^ Berle inducted into
California Hall of Fame Archived January 10,
2008, at the Wayback Machine.,
Milton Berle Hides Out at The Ricardo's". Classic TV Archives.
Retrieved October 22, 2016.
Berle, Milton with Haskel Frankel. Milton Berle, an Autobiography. New
York: Dell, 1975. ISBN 0-440-15626-2
Dunning, John. On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, Oxford
University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8
McNeil, Alex. Total Television. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
Shales, Tom and James Andrew Miller. Live From New York: An Uncensored
History of Saturday Night Live. New York: Little, Brown, 2002.
Berle, William and Lewis, Brad. "My Father, Uncle Miltie". New York:
Barricade Books, 1999. ISBN 1-56980-149-5
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Texaco Star Theater and Buick Berle Show.
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Milton 'Berlinger' Berle's birth certificate
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