The Info List - Milton Berle

Milton Berle
Milton Berle
(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[4] 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 Career

3.1 Vaudeville 3.2 Rising star 3.3 Radio 3.4 Mr. Television 3.5 TV decline 3.6 Life after The Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Show 3.7 Late career

4 Berle offstage 5 Personal life 6 Final role and death 7 Honors and awards 8 Broadway 9 Selected filmography 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

12.1 Listen to

Early life[edit] Milton Berle
Milton Berle
was born into a Jewish[5] family in a five-story walkup at 68 W. 118th Street in the Harlem
neighborhood of Manhattan. His given name was Mendel Berlinger.[2][3] He chose Milton Berle
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),[6] changed her name to Sandra Berle when Milton became famous. Child actor[edit] Berle entered show business at the age of five when he won an amateur talent contest.[7] He appeared as a child actor in silent films, beginning with The Perils of Pauline, filmed in Fort Lee, New Jersey.[8] 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
Mabel Normand
and Marie Dressler."[9] In 1916, Berle enrolled in the Professional Children's School.[9] Career[edit] Vaudeville[edit] Around 1920, at age 12, Berle made his stage debut in a revival of the musical comedy 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. Rising star[edit]

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
Buster Keaton
as Lonesome Polecat.[10] Berle wrote a Spike Jones
Spike Jones
B-side, "Leave the Dishes in the Sink, Ma." Radio[edit] From 1934–36, Berle was heard regularly on The Rudy Vallee
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.[11]

Berle in 1943

In the late 1940s, he canceled well-paying nightclub appearances to expand his radio career.[11] 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 1940s.[11] Scripted by Hal Block
Hal Block
and Martin Ragaway, The Milton Berle
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 aired on 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.[11] Mr. Television[edit] Berle would revive the structure and routines of his vaudeville act for his debut on TV.[12][13][14] 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.[15] Berle modeled the show's structure and skits directly from his vaudeville shows, and hired writer Hal Collins to revive his old routines.[12][13] 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.[8] 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."[16][17] 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".[8] 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."[18] Francis Craig and Kermit Goell's Near You became the theme song that closed Berle's TV shows.[19] Berle risked his newfound TV stardom at its zenith to challenge Texaco when the sponsor tried to prevent black performers from appearing on his show:

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
Bill Robinson
or Lena Horne.[20]

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.[7] Her unique, "piercing, roof-shaking laugh"[7][21] 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!" Berle asked 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.[22] For Berle's contribution to television, he was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
in 1960. TV decline[edit] 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.[23] 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 unsatisfied."[9] By the time the again-renamed Milton Berle
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.[24] The final straw during that last season may have come from CBS scheduling The Phil Silvers
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.[25] Berle later appeared in the Kraft Music Hall series from 1958 to 1959,[26] 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 contestants.[27] Life after The Milton Berle
Milton Berle

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 Herb Gardner's 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
Virginia Mayo
and Bert Lahr, Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love
with Marilyn Monroe
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 Crazy. 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
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 critics.) 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[28]) was hosted by Berle in 1949.[29] A permanent fixture at charity benefits in the Hollywood area, he was instrumental in raising millions for charitable causes. Late career[edit] 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
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 reputation.[30][31] As a guest star on The Muppet Show,[32] Berle was memorably upstaged by the heckling theatre critics Statler and Waldorf.[33] 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 wagon. In 1974, Berle had a minor altercation with younger actor/comedian Richard Pryor
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."[34]

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
Martha Raye
were the presenters of the Emmy
for 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.[35] 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
The Nanny
in the part of her lawyer and great uncle. Berle appeared in drag in the video for "Round and Round" by the 1980s metal band Ratt
(his nephew Marshall Berle was then their manager). In 1985, he appeared on NBC's Amazing Stories
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." Berle offstage[edit] In 1947, Milton Berle
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 position. Berle was famous within show business for the rumored size of his penis.[36][37][38][self-published source][39][40] Phil Silvers
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!"[citation needed] In the short story 'A Beautiful Child', Truman Capote wrote Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
as saying: "Christ! Everybody says Milton Berle has the biggest schlong in Hollywood."[41] 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."[42] Radio shock jock Howard Stern
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[43] (Berle was also a guest on the Stern show on Oct 30, 1996[44]). 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.[45][46] 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".[47] Berle attributed this line to comedian Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason
and said: "It was maybe the funniest spontaneous line I ever heard".[48] 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 Bruce and George Carlin
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
Dick Shawn
and Will Smith. At a taping of a Donny & Marie show episode, for example, Donny and Marie Osmond
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.[citation needed] Personal life[edit]

Milton Berle
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.[21][49] 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."[50] 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.[51] Berle had two stepdaughters from his marriage to Adams, Leslie and Susan Brown.[52] He also had three grandchildren: Victoria's sons James and Mathew,[49] and William's son Tyler Roe, who died in 2014.[53] Berle's autobiography contains many tales of his sexual exploits. He claimed relationships with numerous famous women, including actresses Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
and Betty Hutton, columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.[54] The veracity of some of these claims has been questioned.[55] The McPherson story, in particular, has been challenged by McPherson's biographer[56] and her daughter, among others.[57] In later life, Berle found comfort in Christian Science, and subsequently characterized himself as "a Jew and a Christian Scientist".[58] Oscar Levant, when queried by Jack Paar
Jack Paar
about Berle's conversion, quipped, "Our loss is their loss."[59] Final role and death[edit]

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.[60] 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
Los Angeles
from colon cancer. He died on the same day as Dudley Moore
Dudley Moore
and Billy Wilder.[52][61] Berle reportedly left arrangements to be buried with his second wife, Ruth, at 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.")[62] 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.[63][64][65] Honors and awards[edit]

Berle won the Emmy
for Most Outstanding Kinescoped Personality in 1950, the same year his show, the Texaco Star Theater, won the Emmy for Best Kinescope
Show.[66] He was twice nominated for Emmys for his acting, in 1962 and 1995.[67][68] In 1979, Berle was awarded a special Emmy
Award, titled “Mr. Television.”[69] The Hollywood
Walk of Fame, on February 8, 1960, inducted Berle with two stars, for television and radio.[70] Berle was in the first group of inductees into the Television Hall of Fame in 1984.[71] On December 5, 2007, California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
and First Lady Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
inducted Berle into the California
Hall of Fame, located at The California
Museum for History, Women and the Arts.[72]


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 "Arthur Lee" Ziegfeld Follies
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 Silverman"

Selected filmography[edit]

1914: The Perils of Pauline 1915: Fanchon the Cricket
Fanchon the Cricket
as Bit Role (uncredited) 1917: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
as Bit Part (uncredited) 1920: Birthright 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) 1923: Ruth of the Range as Bit Role (uncredited) 1933: Poppin' the Cork as Elmer Brown 1937: New Faces of 1937
New Faces of 1937
as Wallington Wedge 1938: Radio City Revels as Teddy Jordan 1940: Li'l Abner (title song with Ben Oakland and Milton Drake) 1941: Tall, Dark and Handsome
Tall, Dark and Handsome
as Frosty Welch 1941: The Great American Broadcast
The Great American Broadcast
as Radio Announcer (scenes deleted) 1941: Sun Valley Serenade
Sun Valley Serenade
as Nifty Allen 1941: Rise and Shine as Seabiscuit 1942: A Gentleman at Heart as Lucky Cullen 1942: Whispering Ghosts as H.H. Van Buren 1942: Over My Dead Body as Jason Cordry 1943: Margin for Error
Margin for Error
as Moe Finkelstein 1949: Always Leave Them Laughing
Always Leave Them Laughing
as Kipling 'Kip' Cooper 1959: Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
� " Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Hides Out at The Ricardo's" � Himself[73] 1960: The Bellboy as Himself / Bellboy (uncredited) 1960: Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love
as Himself (uncredited) 1961: The Ladies Man
The Ladies Man
(1961) as Himself (scenes deleted) 1963: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
as J. Russell Finch 1965: The Loved One
The Loved One
as Mr. Kenton 1966: The Oscar as Kappy Kapstetter 1966: Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title as Bookstore Customer with Rope (uncredited) 1967: The Happening as Fred 1967: Who's Minding the Mint?
Who's Minding the Mint?
as Luther Burton 1968: Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows
as The Movie Director: The 'In' Group 1968: 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 1969: Seven in Darkness as Sam Fuller 1972: Evil Roy Slade
Evil Roy Slade
as Harry Fern 1972: Journey Back to Oz
Journey Back to Oz
as The Cowardly Lion (voice) 1975: Lepke
as Mr. Meyer 1976: Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood
as Blind Man 1976: Let's Make a Deal
Let's Make a Deal
(playing for a home viewer) 1978: Hey, Abbott! as Himself (voice) 1979: The Muppet Movie
The Muppet Movie
as Mad Man Mooney 1983: Cracking Up as Ms. Sultry 1984: Broadway Danny Rose
Broadway Danny Rose
as Himself 1984: The 1st TV Academy Hall of Fame as Himself � Winner 1985: Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Pee-wee's Big Adventure
as Himself (uncredited) 1985: Amazing Stories
Amazing Stories
as Himself 1988: Side by Side as Abe Mercer 1989: Going Overboard
Going Overboard
as Himself (uncredited) 1991: Trabbi Goes to Hollywood
as Hotel Clerk 1991: Shakes the Clown
Shakes the Clown
as Male Clown Barfly (uncredited) 1992: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
as Max Jakey 1993: Matlock "The Last Laugh" as Harvey Chase 1995: Beverly Hills, 90210
Beverly Hills, 90210
as Saul Howard 1995: The Nanny
The Nanny
as Uncle Manny 1995: Roseanne as Transvestite at Wedding (uncredited) 1996: Storybook as Illuzor 2000: Two Heads Are Better Than None as Uncle Leo (final film role)


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(1908 – 2002)". Jewish
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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 Hollywood
Reporter.  ^ "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 Television". museum.tv.  ^ 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 2007-02-28 at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b c d "The Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Show". RadioArchives. Retrieved 2 February 2011.  ^ a b Epstein, Lawrence J. (2002) The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish
Comedians in America, ch.6 The Magic Box, pp. 86–7, quotation:

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 Wednesday nights.

^ 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 foolish.

^ 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. ISBN 0-440-05609-8.  ^ " Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater
/ The Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Show". classicthemes.com.  ^ 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
Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Show Archived 2007-01-23 at the Wayback Machine. ^ The Blue Moon Boys — The Story of Elvis Presley's Band. Ken Burke and Dan Griffin. 2006. Chicago Review Press. page 52. ISBN 1-55652-614-8 ^ Torre, Marie (11 March 1959). " Milton Berle
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.  ^ [1] 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 27, 2013. ^ Garlen, Jennifer C.; Graham, Anissa M. (2009). Kermit Culture: Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets. McFarland & Company. p. 218. ISBN 078644259X.  ^ Milton Berle
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. ISBN 978-1450073660.  ^ 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. ISBN 978-1439102794.  ^ 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 Yorker.  ^ "MarksFriggin.com – Stern Show News – Archive". marksfriggin.com.  ^ "Mark's Friggin' Stern Show News – October 1996". marksfriggin.com.  ^ Stern, Howard. Howard Stern
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
Richard Pryor
and the World That Made Him. Chapel Hill NC: Algonquin Books. p. 165.  ^ 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
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. http://www.cappadonafh.com/obits/obituary.php?id=445341. Retrieved 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, California
(1983), p. 241. ^ 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'". adherents.com.  ^ 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 pending.  ^ 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
Milton Berle
http://www.reference.com/browse/milton+berle] ^ "'Mr. TV' Milton Berle
Milton Berle
dies". Variety. March 27, 2002. Retrieved June 24, 2014.  ^ http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/1950 ^ http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/1962 ^ http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/1995/outstanding-guest-actor-in-a-drama-series ^ http://tucson.com/news/blogs/morgue-tales/a-look-back-at-some-earlier-emmy-awards/image_c2a73478-efd3-5c34-88b8-9960c960a835.html ^ http://www.walkoffame.com/milton-berleThe ^ https://www.emmys.com/video/milton-berle-hall-fame-induction-1984 ^ Berle inducted into California
Hall of Fame Archived January 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., California
Museum. ^ " Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Hides Out at The Ricardo's". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved October 22, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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. ISBN 0-14-004911-8 Shales, Tom and James Andrew Miller. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. New York: Little, Brown, 2002. ISBN 0-316-78146-0 Berle, William and Lewis, Brad. "My Father, Uncle Miltie". New York: Barricade Books, 1999. ISBN 1-56980-149-5

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Television Hall of Fame Class of 1984

Lucille Ball Milton Berle Paddy Chayefsky Norman Lear Edward R. Murrow William S. Paley David Sarnoff

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 19870730 LCCN: n82214816 ISNI: 0000 0000 7823 4609 GND: 118909320 SUDOC: 070322120 BNF: cb139411772 (data) MusicBrainz: 524d9fd7-1301-47b5-a898-3312831f3705 NLA: 55087593 NKC: pna2010578114 BNE: XX1175332 SN