1991: The first inductee into the
International Comedy Hall of Fame
Berle, Milton, American comedian and
actor, the first American television (TV) superstar, who gained prominence in the late
1940s as host of "Texaco Star Theatre" (1948-1956) on the National Broadcasting
Company (NBC) network. His popularity is believed to have aided the sale of TV sets
to working-class families, earning him the nickname Mr. Television. To young viewers he
was famed as Uncle Miltie.
Born Milton Berlinger in New York City, Berle
performed in silent movies as a child. In the 1920s he worked in vaudeville, where he
developed broad and brash comedy routines. He also appeared in Broadway shows in New York
City. In the 1930s he hosted a number of variety shows (programs made up of several
separate performances, such as songs, skits, comedy routines, and dances) on radio without achieving any real measure of fame. When
he began appearing on television in the 1940s, however, he achieved nationwide popularity,
since he specialized in physical comedy suited for a visual medium and America's ripe
NBC had meant to use a rotation of hosts
on its "Texaco Star Theatre" when it was launched in 1948, but Berle was such an
instant success that he became the sole host. Audiences loved his sight gags, puns, funny
ways of walking, and outlandish costumes. His popularity faded in the mid-1950s, however,
as television viewers grew more sophisticated. "Texaco Star Theatre," which had
been renamed "The Milton Berle Show" in 1954, ended in 1956. Berle continued to
make guest appearances on similar programs during the mid-1960s, and an attempt in 1966 to
revive his variety show was unsuccessful.
1960s Berle switched careers to focus solely on acting, and he appeared in roles in
dramatic TV programs; in TV series, such as "F Troop" (1965-1967),
"Batman" (1966-1968), and "The Love Boat" (1977-1986); and in TV
movies. He won Emmy Awards in 1949 (for "Texaco Star Theatre") and 1979 (special
award for Berle's contribution to television), and in 1984 he was inducted into the
Television Hall of Fame.
1948-56 Texaco Star Theater
1958-59 Milton Berle Starring in the Kraft Music Hall 1960-61 Jackpot Bowling
1966-67 The Milton Berle Show
1970 Seven In Darkness
1972 Evil Roy Slade
1975 The Legend of Valentino
1988 Side By Side
1950 Uncle Miltie's Christmas Party
1950 Show of the Year (host)
1951 Uncle Miltie's Easter Party
1955 The Big Time (co-host)
1959 The Milton Berle Special
1959 The Milton Berle Special
1961 The Chrysler Television Special
1962 The Milton Berle Special
1972 Opening Night: U.S.A.
1973 A Show Business Salute to Milton Berle
1975 Milton Berle's Mad Mad Mad World of Comedy
1976 The First 50 Years (co-host)
1978 A Tribute to "Mr. Television" Milton Berle
1986 NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration (co-host)
Various Biography silent productions; New
Faces of 1937; Radio City Revels, 1938; Tall, Dark, and Handsome, 1941; Sun
Valley Serenade, 1941; Rise and Shine, 1941; A Gentleman at Heart, 1942;
Over My Dead Body, 1942; Whispering Ghosts, 1942; Margin for Error,
1943; Always Leave Them Laughing, 1949; Let's Make Love, 1960; It's a
Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963; The Loved One, 1965; The Oscar, 1966; The
Happening, 1967; Who's Minding the Mint?, 1967; Where Angels Go, Trouble
Follows, 1968; For Singles Only, 1968; Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget
Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, 1969; Lepke, 1975; The Muppet Movie,
1979; Broadway Danny Rose, 1984; Driving Me Crazy, 1992; Storybook,
Texaco Star Theater, 1939-1948; The
Milton Berle Show, 1939; Stop Me if You've Heard This One (co-host); Let
Yourself Go, 1944; Kiss and Make Up, 1946.
Floradora, 1920; Earl Carroll
Vanities, 1932; Saluta, 1934; Life Begins at 8:40, 1935; See My
Lawyer, 1939; I'll Take the High Road, 1943; Spring in Brazil, 1945; Seventeen,
1951; Top Banana, 1963; The Goodbye People, 1968; Two by Two, 1971; The
Milton Berle Show, 1971; Last of the Red Hot Lovers, 1970-71; Norman, Is
That You?, 1973-75; The Best of Everybody, 1975; The Sunshine Boys,
Laughingly Yours. New York, Los
Angeles: Samuel French, 1939.
Out of My Trunk. Garden City, New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1945.
Earthquake. New York: Random House, 1959.
Milton Berle: An Autobiography with Haskel Frankel. New York: Delacourte, 1974.
B.S. I Love You. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987.
Milton Berle's Private Joke File. New York: Crown, 1989.
More of the Best of Milton Berle's Private Joke File. New York: William Morrow,
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