Milton Berle

Comedian, Vaudevillian, Actor
In a career that has spanned eight decades, and included everything from silent films to vaudeville to Broadway to radio, Milton Berle qualifies as one of the personifications of "show business". Despite making a mark ... Read more »
Born: 07/11/1908 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (144)

General Hospital 1962 - 2014 (TV Show)

Actor

Pioneers of Television 2008 (Tv Show)

Actor

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Jackie Gleason: The Great One 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Barbara Walters: A Driving Force 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

James Bacon: The E! True Hollywood Story 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

NYTV: By the People Who Made It 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Rat Pack 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Comic Relief VIII 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Fudge 1994 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Phil Silvers: Top Banana 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Danny Thomas: Make Room For Danny 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Sonja Henie: Fire on Ice 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1996 Emmy Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Burke's Law 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Due South 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1992, 1994 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Nichols and May -- Take Two 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Sister, Sister 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1994 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Texaco Star Theater 1947 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1992, 1994 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Milton Berle Show 1947 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Nanny 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1991 - 1992, 1994 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Beverly Hills 90210 1995 (Tv Show)

Actor

TV Nation: Year-in-Review Special 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Critic 1953 - 1956, 1958 - 1962, 1994 - 1995 (Tv Show)

Voice

The Ed Sullivan All-Star Comedy Special 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The History of Rock 'n' Roll 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Second Annual Comedy Hall of Fame 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Milton Berle: Mr. Television 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Storybook 1994 (Movie)

Illuzor (Actor)

The 1993 MTV Video Music Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The First Annual Comedy Hall of Fame 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Alan King: Inside the Comedy Mind 1990 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

A Celebration of Eddy Arnold 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Elvis: The Great Performances 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The Class of the 20th Century 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope's "Don't Shoot, It's Only Me" 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Driving Me Crazy 1991 (Movie)

Hotel Clerk (Actor)

George Burns' 95th Birthday Party 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The World of Jewish Humor 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The 41st Annual Emmy Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 75th Anniversary of Beverly Hills 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

NBC Investigates Bob Hope 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Side By Side 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual Emmy Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope Buys NBC? 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Funny 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

George Burns' 90th Birthday Special 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Life's Most Embarrassing Moments 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cracker Brothers 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Broadway Danny Rose 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Family Business 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Parade of Stars 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Smorgasbord 1982 (Movie)

Female Patient (Actor)

Sinatra -- The First 40 Years 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast 1973 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

George Burns' 100th Birthday Party 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Chevy Chase National Humor Test 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Muppet Movie 1979 (Movie)

Mad Man Mooney (Actor)

A Tribute to "Mr. Television," Milton Berle 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Have I Got a Christmas For You! 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Kraft 75th Anniversary Special 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Sheila 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

The First 50 Years 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Ironside 1967 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Lepke 1975 (Movie)

Mr Meyer (Actor)

Milton Berle's Mad Mad Mad World of Comedy 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Vaudeville 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

A Show Business Salute to Milton Berle 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Journey Back to Oz 1974 (Movie)

(Voice)

The Many Faces of Comedy 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

A Salute to Television's 25th Anniversary 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Opening Night: U.S.A. 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (04/19/73) 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

20th Century Follies 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

City vs. Country 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Plimpton! Did You Hear the One About...? 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Get Smart 1965 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

For Singles Only 1968 (Movie)

Mr Parker (Actor)

Where Angels Go... Trouble Follows 1968 (Movie)

Film Director (Actor)

Murder At NBC 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

The Happening 1966 (Movie)

Fred (Actor)

Who's Minding the Mint? 1966 (Movie)

Luther Burton (Actor)

The Oscar 1965 (Movie)

Kappy Kapstetter (Actor)

The Loved One 1964 (Movie)

Mr Kenton (Actor)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

J Russell Finch (Actor)

The Dick Powell Show 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

The Kraft Music Hall 1953 - 1955, 1958 - 1962 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Barbara Stanwyck Theater 1960 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

Let's Make Love 1960 (Movie)

Guest Star (Actor)

The Bellboy 1960 (Movie)

(Actor)

Always Leave Them Laughing 1948 (Movie)

(Actor)

Margin For Error 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Gentleman at Heart 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

Over My Dead Body 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

Whispering Ghosts 1941 (Movie)

(Actor)

Sun Valley Serenade 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

Tall, Dark and Handsome 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

Radio City Revels 1937 (Movie)

Teddy (Actor)

New Faces of 1937 1936 (Movie)

Wallington (Actor)

Sparrows 1925 (Movie)

(Actor)

Lena Rivers 1924 (Movie)

(Actor)

Humoresque 1919 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Mark of Zorro 1919 (Movie)

(Actor)

Easy Street 1916 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Perils of Pauline 1913 (Movie)

(Actor)

Tillie's Punctured Romance 1913 (Movie)

(Actor)

Batman (TV Show)

Actor

CHiPs (TV Show)

Actor

Evil Roy Slade (TV Show)

Actor

Jingle Bell Rock (TV Show)

Voice

Kraft Television Theater (TV Show)

Actor

Laughing Matters (TV Show)

Actor

Liberace: Mr. Showmanship (TV Show)

Actor

Rise and Shine (Movie)

Sea Biscuit (Actor)

Seven in Darkness (TV Show)

Actor

The Legend of Valentino (TV Show)

Actor
Music (2)

Manifesto 1989 (Movie)

("I'd Give a Million Tomorrows") (Song)

Roger & Me 1989 (Movie)

("Lucky, Lucky Me") (Song)

Biography

In a career that has spanned eight decades, and included everything from silent films to vaudeville to Broadway to radio, Milton Berle qualifies as one of the personifications of "show business". Despite making a mark in each of the aforesaid media, Berle achieved his greatest success as the first acknowledged superstar of television. Between 1948 and 1956, Tuesday nights belonged to the comedian. The success of his weekly variety show earned him the honorific titles of 'Mr. Television' and 'Uncle Miltie'. Famous for his extremely high energy level and for a series of outlandish characterizations--especially those featuring the star in drag--Berle was at the top of the TV ratings for several seasons, but when the inevitable fade occurred, he was unable to find a subsequent suitable vehicle for his talents. He did, however, stay prominent in the public eye via many TV specials, both those built around him and in guest star spots, where his trademark cigar, snide wisecracks, unctuous manner and withering glare at the camera were put to good use.

Berle began his career as a child model, posing for the advertising campaign for Buster Brown shoes. He entered films in 1914, appearing in the serial "The Perils of Pauline" and Mack Sennett's "Tillie's Punctured Romance". Reportedly, he appeared in over 50 silent films as a child performer. Berle began to perform on stage in 1920 in the Broadway production of "Floradora". Appearances in vaudeville, where the comedian perfected his wiseguy persona, led to engagements in editions of "Earl Carroll Vanities" and the "Ziegfeld Follies". He returned to features in "New Faces of 1937" (1937) and made sporadic appearances in the 1940s, including "Sun Valley Serenade" (1941) and "Always Leave Them Laughing" (1949).

After establishing himself in the developing medium of TV, Berle returned to features and the stage, searching for the role that would duplicate his success on the small screen. Like others comics who became TV personalities (e.g., Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Sid Caesar), Berle had trouble shaking the public's perception of him as anything other than Uncle Miltie. His return to Broadway in Herb Gardner's play "The Goodbye People" (1968) was short-lived. He had moderate success touring in Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" (1970) and later in the sex farce "Norman, Is That You?" (1975).

His feature work since 1960 has also been sporadic. He appeared as himself, hired to coach a showgirl (Marilyn Monroe) in comedy in George Cukor's "Let's Make Love" (1960), was a henpecked motorist in Stanley Kramer's all-star "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), partnered with Margaret Leighton as a mourner in Tony Richardson's sardonic "The Loved One" (1965), and delivered a dramatic portrayal of a Jewish gangster in "Lepke" (1975). He has continued to work into the 1990s, appearing in the 1995 direct-to-video children's film "Storybook".

On TV, Berle has made numerous guest appearances on comedies, variety shows and specials and dramas. An attempt to revive his variety show in the mid-60s failed to attract audience attention. Berle has proven himself capable as a dramatic performer on the small screen. He earned a Best Actor Emmy nomination for his dramatic performance in the "Doyle Against the House" episode of "The Dick Powell Show" (NBC, 1961) and a Best Guest Actor Emmy nomination for his turn as a veteran actor struggling with Alzheimer's Disease in an episode of "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1995).

Relationships

Moses Berlinger

Father

Leslie

Step-Daughter
survived him

Lorna Adams

Wife
Born c. 1940 Engaged October 1991 Married 1991 until his death March 27, 2002

Victoria Berle

Daughter
adopted with Ruth Cosgrove survived him

William Berle

Son
born c. 1962 mother, Ruth Cosgrove estranged from Berle wrote the scathing memoir "My Father, Uncle Miltie" (published in 1999) survived him

Sandra Berlinger

Mother
Berle has claimed his mother was one of the first NYC policewomen and worked as a store detective prior to his birth

Frank Berlinger

Brother
born c. 1903

Jack Berlinger

Brother
born c. 1905 died in 1985

Phil Berlinger

Brother
born c. 1900 died on January 2, 1999 at age 97 manager for Rudy Vallee

Rosalind Berlinger

Sister
younger

Ruth Cosgrove

Wife
Married 1953 until her death April 20, 1989

Joyce Matthews Actor

Wife

Susan Moll

Step-Daughter
edited Milton married to actor Richard Moll survived him

Milestones

1998

Suffered mild stroke in December

1997

Launched Milton, a gaming magazine, published by his wife Lorna and edited by his daughter Susan

1995

Had featured role in "Storybook"

1995

Earned Emmy nomination for guest performance on "Beverly Hills, 90210"

1984

Played himself in Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose"

1975

Played dramatic role in the feature "Lepke"

1968

Returned to Broadway after a thirty-year absence to play role of Max Silverman in Herb Gardner's "The Goodbye People"

1963

Toured in stage production "Top Banana"

1961

1960

Returned to features with "The Bellboy" and "Let's Make Love"

1949

Last feature for eleven years, "Always Leave THem Laughing"

1948

Hosted and starred on the radio series "Texaco Star Theater"

1948

Hosted and starred on the TV series, "Texaco Star Theater" (NBC)

1937

Featured in the film "New Faces of 1937"

1936

Appeared on stage with "Ziegfeld Follies"

1932

Featured on Broadway in "Earl Carroll Vanities"

1920

Broadway debut "Floradora"

1914

Film acting debut, "The Perils of Pauline"; also featured in "Tillie's Punctured Romance", directed by Charlie Chaplin

1913

Won a Charlie Chaplin impersonation contest

1913

Worked as child model for Buster Brown shoes

Hosted and starred on the TV series, "The Milton Berle Show" (NBC)

Underwent coronary bypass surgery

Reportedly played bit roles in over 50 silent films, most for Biograph

Appeared in dramatic role on "The Dick Powell Show" in episode titled "Doyle Against the House"; earned Emmy nomination

Revived "The Milton Berle Show" for ABC

Hosted and starred on a revamped "The Milton Berle Show" (NBC)

Bonus Trivia

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Berle has written the lyrics to many songs, notably the novelty number "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long".

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"My mother had wanted to be an actress. But in those days, being an actress was considered like being a harlot, so she never did it. Instead, she poured all of her drive and passion for show business into me and my career.I did whatever my mother wanted. I wanted whatever she wanted. She was the ultimate stage mother--she made Gypsy Rose Lee's mother look like Mary Poppins."--Berle quoted in special tribute issue of The Hollywood Reporter, July 1990

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Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame (1984)

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He was the first inductee into the International Comedy Hall of Fame (1991)

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Berle presides as the Abbot Emeritus of the Friars Club

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