Biography

Milton Berle: Mr. Television

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
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A look back at the career of comedian Milton Berle, "Mr. Television," the first inductee in the Television Hall of Fame.

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Himself Host
Larry Robinson ...
Himself Narrator
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Himself
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Himself
Buddy Arnold ...
Himself
Jim Bacon ...
Himself
Lorna Berle ...
Herself
Phil Berle ...
Himself
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Himself
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Himself
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Herself
Greg Garrison ...
Himself
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Himself
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Himself
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The career of Mr. Television, Milton Berle, is profiled from his early days as a child actor in silent films, through vaudeville, Hollywood, his zenith in the early days of television, his career as a respected dramatic actor, and his evolution into a show business icon. Family, friends, and co-workers like Stanley Kramer, Sid Caeser, Alan King, Henny Youngman, and Hal Kantor are interviewed and archival clips and photos are featured. Written by duke1029@aol.com

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Quotes

Himself Host: He's the George Washington of television. Come to think of it, he's the Martha Washington too!
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Connections

Features The Milton Berle Show (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

Near You
Music by Francis Craig
Lyrics by Kermit Goell
Berle's theme song
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User Reviews

 
Milton Berlinger and his 86-Year Career in Entertainment
26 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Larry Robinson narrates this account of the life and career of Milton Berlinger, from his 1908 birth, in Manhattan, New York, son of Sadie and Moses Berlinger, through his 86-year career on stage, screen and television, which he helps to pioneer, as writer, producer, director and star, Milton Berle.

Well, a multi-faceted popular career spanning 86 years may prove challenging to report upon in 1,000 words or less, from Milton's 1914 screen debut, in "The Perils of Pauline," through his most recent, "Two Heads Are Better Than None" (2000) (TV).

So, for the sake of brevity, let's focus upon some of his interesting work in pioneering television broadcast productions....

On the evening of June 08, 1948, Milton Berle presents the premier edition of "Texaco Star Theater," for which he draws upon his years in Vaudeville to introduce and to interact with guest performers.

At this time, there are an estimated 500,000 television sets in American residences, but within a year's time, that number doubles to over 1,000,000 as fans spread the word to watch Milton Berle's program on NBC on Tuesday evenings.

Word of mouth spreads quickly, as customers no longer need to watch television in the storefronts of department and hardware stores, and so Milton Berle is credited with promoting more sales of television sets than the manufacturers themselves.

But parents begin to have trouble with sending their school-age children from the living room when "Texaco Star Theater" is broadcast, and so they write in to petition assistance from its star. Well, Milton rises to the occasion, by including in his broadcasts admonitions for children to turn in immediately after the program, from "Uncle Miltie," and hence, he earns his nickname.

Milton Berle not only presents the talent, but he also writes, produces and directs his programs because television, after all, remains in its infancy, and no one has received any training for these positions.

As his hit series progresses, it undergoes changes conducive to its times, such as segueing from its Vaudeville format into a Musical and conversational arrangement, and also undergoing a name change, as the sponsor changes from Texaco to Buick; hence, "The Buick-Berle Show" is born and lasts the duration.

Milton's marriages are with Joyce Mathews (1941–47), Joyce Mathews (again, 1949–50), Ruth Cosgrove (1953–89), and Lorna Adams (whom he marries in 1991). With Joyce, he adopts Victoria; with Ruth, he adopts William, and with Lorna, he welcomes her daughters, Leslie and Susan.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Milton Berle (Self), Lorna Berle (Wife), Phil Berle (Brother), Phyllis Diller (Entertainer), Bob Hope (Entertainer), Steve Allen (Entertainer), Alan King (Entertainer), Henny Youngman (Entertainer), Sid Caesar (Entertainer), Norm Crosby (Entertainer), Jack Lemmon (Actor), Buddy Arnold (Jazz Saxophonist), Jim Bacon (Hollywood Reporter), Hal Kanter (Writer/Producer/Director), Stanley Kramer (Film Director/Producer), Greg Garrison (Television Producer/Director), and Ron Simon (Curator: Museum of Television and Radio), with Peter Graves (Host), and Larry Robinson (Narrator).

Archive film and television footage includes Milton Berle, Pearl White, Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell, Carl Sandburg, Tallulah Bankhead, Harpo Marx, Ethel Merman, Cyd Charisse, Arnold Stang, Howard Stern, Danny Thomas, Buddy Hackett, Imogene Coca, Morey Amsterdam, Jack Benny, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Phil Silvers, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Dagmar, Jackie Cooper, Laurence Harvey, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Red Skelton.

Television Clips include scenes from "Texaco Star Theater" (1948-49), "The Buick-Berle Show" (1949-53), "The Milton Berle Show" (1958), and "The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour: Milton Berle Hides Out at the Ricardos'" (1959).


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