Happy Birthday: Milton Berle (1908–2002)

Milton Berle (1908–2002)Date of Birth 12 July 1908, New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 27 March 2002, Los Angeles, California, USA (colon cancer)
Birth Name Milton Berlinger
Nicknames Uncle Miltie
Mr. Television
The Boy Wonder
The Thief of Bad Gags
Height 5′ 10″ (1.78 m)

Don’t burn, just singe.

You show the emotion so you get the audience going the other way.

[on his beginning as a comic] I had copied my style from a great comic, Ted Healy. I patterned myself after Healy, with the hat turned up in front and the collegiate look. I was the brash, flippant wise guy, smart-ass type.
I have a file of four million jokes . . . I have them cross-indexed. Whatever subject you want, I have a joke on it.

[on his early television show] The first year I was on, ’48 or ’49, I didn’t even have a writer. I just remembered what I did for the last 20 years ’cause we couldn’t afford a writer–there wasn’t any money. So it was a pretty difficult thing and the facilities were difficult.

[his definition of a comic]. . . a comic is a guy who depends solely on the joke, and we have thousands of them. The comedian can get a laugh opening a door in the funny way that he does it and his attitude–that’s a comic versus a comedian. Now a “funnyman” can get a laugh before opening his mouth–looking funny. Lou Costello was one of your great funnymen. Harry Langdon, Larry Semon; they were all funnymen–they LOOKED funny. W.C. Fields was never a comedian. Slim Summerville was a comedian, yet looked funny. Now if you have both attributes, you are in good shape. There is a great line between the comic, the comedian, the funnyman, the buffoon and the clown. I don’t maybe do everything well–but I know the difference.


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