"If opportunity doesnt knock, build a door."
Mendel "Milton Berle" Berlinger (1908-2002) was an Emmy-winning American comedian and actor who, as the host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater from 19481955, is remembered as the first major TV star, known to millions as Uncle Miltie or Mr. Television.
Milton Berle was born in Manhattan to Sarah and Moses Berlinger (a paint and varnish salesman). He started appearing in films at the age of 6 (although perhaps not in as many as his later accounts claimed) and took his professional name, Milton Berle, at the age of 16. His mother apparently became so stage struck that she later changed her name to Sandra Berle.
In 1916 he was enrolled in the Professional Children's School, and made his stage debut at the age of 12 in Florodora. The show transferred to Broadway after four weeks, launching him on an eight decade comedy career including Broadway, vaudeville, Las Vegas, films, TV and radio.
The Texaco Star Theater began on ABC radio in September 1948, moving to Tuesday night TV shortly after. The show held the number one ratings slot for some years, sometimes achieving an 80% audience share and causing theaters, restaurants and businesses to shut down for the hour, or even the whole evening, rather than compete with the show. Apparently, there was even an investigation into the drastic drop in reservoir water levels between 9.00 and 9.05, which was resolved when officials realized that this was when the Texaco Star Theater ended and the audience rushed for the bathroom! The show also triggered a massive increase in TV sale, which doubled to two million in 1949.
Married four times, Berle died on March 27, 2002; the same day that Director Billy Wilder and comedian Dudley Moore also died.
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