Milton Berle, Uncle Miltie, or Mr. Television, this man was undoubtedly one of the best and biggest comedic television stars of all time.
His career was long, illustrious, and full of laughs! However, before he was Milton Berle, a famous actor and comedian, he was born Mendel Berlinger in Harlem, New York, on July 12, 1908.
He changed his name to Berle when he was sixteen but got into show business long before. In fact, his first big break was winning Charlie Chaplin’s children’s on-air contest when he was only five years old.
He continued to impress directors as a child star and landed several roles on television and even in some films.
By the time he was twelve, he was acting in several stage plays and quickly made his way to Broadway. During this time, he also dabbled in songwriting and was actually quite successful.
In 1930, he became a flourishing stand-up comedian, and in 1934 became a radio star, hosting several comedic variety shows. His most popular radio show was The Texaco Star Theater which began in 1938 and later became a televised program in 1948.
Berle’s highly visual style, characterized by vaudeville slapstick and outlandish costumes, was a fantastic fit for television. He became the permanent host in the Fall of 1948 and remained on the show for almost a decade.
Texaco Star Theater aired every Tuesday, and for that decade, time almost stood still in the American home during his show. In fact, over 97% of the country’s television viewers were watching Berle’s comedy show!
One of Berle’s most impressive and noteworthy moments was when he told the producers who were refusing to allow African-American performers on the show that he would not perform if they weren’t permitted to appear.
Eventually, the program was renamed The Milton Berle Show, but it only lasted another year on the air and finally came to a close in 1956.
While this was certainly the most notable aspect of Berle’s career, he continued in show business for the next four decades.
He played sold-out shows in Vegas, starred in movies, and even appeared in popular TV shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, 90210.
Milton Berle was known for most of his life as Mr. Television, and his many accolades and fans all agree: he was not only the face of television but also one of a kind.
While Berle passed away on March 27, 2002, his comedy and presence will not soon be forgotten, and his classic sketches will continue to make Americans laugh for a very long time.