Today is the 114th birthday of the actor, comedian, and television pioneer Milton Berle. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has gone.
NAME: Milton Berle
AKA: Mendel Berlinger
DATE OF BIRTH: 12-Jul-1908
PLACE OF BIRTH: Harlem, NY
DATE OF DEATH: 27-Mar-2002
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, CA
CAUSE OF DEATH: Cancer – Colon
REMAINS: Buried, Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City, CA
Father: Moses Berlinger
Brother: Phil Berle
Wife: Joyce Mathews (m. 1941, div. 1947, two children adopted)
Wife: Joyce Mathews (remarried, m. 1949, div. 1950)
Wife: Ruth Cosgrove (m. 1953, d. 1989, one child adopted)
Wife: Lorna Adams (m. 1991, until his death)
Slept with: Aimee Semple McPherson (according to him)
Girlfriend: Pola Negri (according to Berle on Larry King Live)
Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame
Emmy 1950 Most Outstanding Kinescope Personality
Emmy 1979 (special, “Mr. Television”)
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6263 Hollywood Blvd.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Milton Berle 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.
Berle was born in New York City on July 12, 1908, to Moses and Sarah (Glantz) Berlinger. His father worked at a succession of jobs; his mother was a store detective who encouraged her young son in showbusiness. At age five, he won first place in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
His first film roles were in 1914 with The Perils of Pauline and Tillie’s Punctured Romance with Charlie Chaplin. He also appeared in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm with Mary Pickford (1917) and The Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1921).
A natural performer, he made his first Broadway appearance at age twelve in the musical Floradora. Throughout the 1920s, Berle performed in vaudeville, achieving top billing as a comic, musical performer, and master of ceremonies. In the 1930s and 40s he appeared in various Hollywood films, on radio, and on stage. He starred in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1943, and was the first performer ever to have his name posted above the show name on the marquee.
Berle, or “Uncle Miltie”, is best known as the host of television’s Texaco Star Theater (1948 -1954). Television’s first superstar, he was credited with making television sets standard equipment in American homes as viewers across the country tuned in to watch his slapstick antics. Ultimately, television proved to be a very powerful medium of communication that changed the world, and he was the first performer inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
From the 1960s on, Berle performed in nightclubs, on Broadway, and in the movies, as well as guest appearances on television. His last film was Storybook (1995).
He married Joyce Mathews in 1941 and they adopted a daughter, Victoria, in 1945. They divorced in 1947 but remarried briefly in 1949. He married Ruth Rosenthal in 1953 and they adopted a son, William, in 1961. After Ruth’s death in 1989, he married Lorna Adams in 1991. Berle died in Los Angeles on March 27, 2002, at age 93.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Driving Me Crazy (16-May-1991) · Hotel Clerk
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (19-Jul-1985) · Himself
Broadway Danny Rose (27-Jan-1984) · Himself
Cracking Up (1983)
The Muppet Movie (22-Jun-1979)
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (26-May-1976)
Journey Back to Oz (5-Dec-1974) [VOICE]
Evil Roy Slade (18-Feb-1972)
Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (19-Mar-1969)
For Singles Only (5-Jun-1968)
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (10-Apr-1968) · The Movie Director
Who’s Minding the Mint? (26-Sep-1967)
The Happening (Mar-1967) · Fred
The Oscar (4-Mar-1966) · Kappy Kapstetter
The Loved One (11-Oct-1965) · Mr. Kenton
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (7-Nov-1963) · J. Russell Finch
Always Leave Them Laughing (23-Nov-1949) · Kip Cooper
Margin for Error (8-Jan-1943)
Over My Dead Body (25-Dec-1942)
Whispering Ghosts (17-May-1942)
A Gentleman at Heart (16-Jan-1942) · Lucky Cullen
Sun Valley Serenade (21-Aug-1941)
Tall, Dark and Handsome (23-Jan-1941)
Radio City Revels (11-Feb-1938)
New Faces of 1937 (2-Jul-1937) · Wallington
Author of books:
Out of My Trunk: Milton Berle’s Fabulous Fun-tasy (1945, humor)
Milton Berle: An Autobiography (1974, memoir, with Haskel Frankel)
B. S. I Love You: Sixty Funny Years with the Famous and the Infamous (1988, memoir)
Milton Berle’s Private Joke File: Over 10,000 of His Best Gags, Anecdotes, and One-Liners (1989, humor)