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Old 03-27-2002, 08:38 PM   #1
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Milton Berle and Dudley Moore Die

Milton Berle Dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) Milton Berle, the acerbic, cigar-smoking vaudevillian who eagerly embraced a new medium and became "Mr. Television" when the technology was in its infancy, died Wednesday. He was 93.

Berle was diagnosed with colon cancer last year and had been under hospice care for the past few weeks. Berle's wife, Lorna, and several family members were at his side when he died at home after a lengthy illness, publicist Warren Cowan said.

"He was responsible for the television set in your home today," Cowan said. "He put television on the map."

"Uncle Miltie" was the king of Tuesday nights in the late 1940s, and store owners put up signs: "Closed tonight to watch Milton Berle."

At 8 p.m., four Texaco service attendants sang the "Texaco Star Theater" theme, and then came Berle, dressed for laughs: a caveman introduced as "the man with jokes from the Stone Age"; a man in a barrel "who had just paid his taxes."

If the audience thought he looked funny in a dress, Berle was happy to oblige, and skits in drag became a trademark. The NBC program's popularity spurred sales of television sets and helped make TV a medium for the masses.

"From the first days of my career, he was one of my comedic heroes," Don Rickles said. "He was always a great mentor. His style of comedy will never be replaced."

Berle was called the "Thief of Bad Gags" and even joked about stealing quips. "I laughed so hard I nearly dropped my pencil," he once said of a rival comedian, and he stopped at nothing for a laugh.

"Good evening, ladies and germs," Berle would say to his audience. "I mean ladies and gentlemen. I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are."

In his debut season in 1948, Berle's show was watched on four out of every five sets in the nation, and he was the new medium's highest-paid funny man.

The magic faded in the '50s, and in recent years, Berle played fairs, night clubs, college campuses and the private Friars clubs in Beverly Hills and New York. In 1983, he was among the first seven inductees into the TV Hall of Fame of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

He admitted his humor wasn't subtle or gentle: "I guess you'd call my style flippancy, aggressiveness ... a put-downer."

Flowers were left on Berle's star on the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard. Earlier Wednesday, flowers were placed on comic actor Dudley Moore's star after word of his death in New Jersey.

"It's really the day the laughter died," said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. "It's a loss from two generations of very, very funny people."

Born Mendel Berlinger in New York's Harlem on July 12, 1908, Berle remembered his mother, Sandra, bouncing him on her knee and telling him, "Make me laugh."

His mother was a thwarted entertainer; his father Moses, Berle recalled, was a "charming, rather helpless man who suffered from rheumatism and could never keep a job. ... He always dreamed of the big chance around the corner, but it never came."

Berle's first taste of show business came at age 5, when he won a vaudeville contest by imitating Charlie Chaplin. Soon he was doing child leads in films with Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand, and was the kid rescued from the railroad tracks in the nick of time in the Pearl White movies.

He appeared with Chaplin and Marie Dressler in the movie, "Tillie's Punctured Romance," and with Pickford in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."

His Broadway debut came in 1920 in "The Floradora Girl."

He attended New York's Professional Children's School, and as a teen-ager toured the vaudeville circuit as a stand-up comic, taking his jokes from College Humor and Captain Billy's Whiz Bang.

"I studied stars like Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, Lou Holtz and others," Berle said in a 1984 interview. "I have eight or 10 press books of bad notices from those years, but it was a good education in learning what not to do."

In 1936, Berle was a headliner with the Ziegfeld Follies. He played a long run with Earl Carroll's Vanities and began bringing his brand of humor to radio with guest spots on humor shows. He also appeared in several minor film comedies, such as "New Faces of 1937" and 1949's "Always Leave Them Laughing" (based on his autobiography). But he never really made it on the big screen.

Then came the advent of television.

Berle was signed as host of the first show of a variety series the "Texaco Star Theater." He was supposed to alternate with several other hosts, including Henny Youngman and Morey Amsterdam, but Berle drew so much fan mail that NBC soon gave him the spot permanently.

Berle's hour-long "Texaco Star Theater" began June 8, 1948, and was renamed "The Milton Berle Show" before it ended in June 1956.

He won an Emmy for the program, which was truly his own.

"Our star, besides performing, conducted the orchestra, made countless little changes, like revamping the dances, redesigning the costumes, rewriting and improvising one-liners and exit cues," recalled Goodman Ace, one of Berle's writers. "Dress rehearsals were classic exercises in wild frenzy. He wore a traffic cop's whistle around his neck and blew the show to so many stops that a rehearsal often lasted from noon until 10 minutes before air time."

Berle's sister, Rosalind, designed many of the costumes, and his mother was a fixture in the studio audience.

"When I started out with the Texaco series in 1948, television was brand new, and I knew just as much about it as anybody else," Berle once said. "I was in charge of everything because I wanted to be. ... We didn't have any experts in 1948."

In 1951, NBC signed him to an unprecedented contract calling for $100,000 a year for 30 years whether Berle worked or not. The network agreed in 1965 to let him work elsewhere, and Berle accepted a pay cut to $60,000 a year.

In 1960, Berle lasted six months in "Jackpot Bowling Starring Milton Berle," sandwiching comedy bits between play-by-play of a bowling match. He jumped to ABC in 1966 with a new variety show that lasted only a few months.

He made more movies in the 1960s, notably "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" in 1963. Other films included "The Oscar," "The Happening," "Who's Minding the Mint?," "Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows," "For Singles Only," "Hieronymus Merkin," "Lepke" and "The Muppet Movie."

In 1984, he played himself in "Broadway Danny Rose."

Berle married, divorced and remarried show girl Joyce Matthews, and they adopted a daughter, Vicki. Their second marriage lasted six years. In 1953 Berle married former publicist Ruth Cosgrove. They had an adopted son, Bill. She died in 1989, and Berle married fashion designer Lorna Adams in 1991.

In later years, Berle said he found much solace in Christian Science, and called himself a Jew and a Christian Scientist. He became the national chairman of the American Longevity Association in 1982, and was president of The Friars Club.

A pioneer in television, Berle always was ready to try something new.

"Too many people simply give up too easily," he once said. "You have to keep the desire to forge ahead, and you have to be able to take the bruises of unsuccess. Success is just one long street fight."

Services were planned at Hillside Memorial Park.

Dudley Moore dies


Actor Dudley Moore, who became an unlikely Hollywood heart-throb portraying a cuddly pipsqueak whose charm melted hearts in "10" and "Arthur," died Wednesday at his home in New Jersey, a spokeswoman said. He was 66.

Moore died at 11 a.m. EST, said publicist Michelle Bega in Los Angeles. The British-born actor died of pneumonia as a complication of progressive supranuclear palsy, she said.

There was more than a touch of autobiography in "10," the 1979 film in which Moore played a musician determined to marry a perfect woman. But the happy ending eluded him in real life. Four marriages ended in divorce.

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He confessed to being driven by feelings of inferiority about his working-class origins in Dagenham, east London, and because of his height of five feet, 2 1/2 inches. In later life he also spoke of the pain of being rejected by his mother because he was born with a deformed left foot.

Comedians, he said in an interview with Newsday in 1980, are often driven by such feelings. "I certainly did feel inferior. Because of class. Because of strength. Because of height. ... I guess if I'd been able to hit somebody in the nose, I wouldn't have been a comic."

Music was Moore's entree into public performance, first as a chorister and organist in his parish church in Dagenham, near London, and then in 1960 as a young Oxford graduate recruited for the hit four-man comedy review "Beyond the Fringe."

"Fringe," which played two years in London and then moved to Broadway, was perhaps the greatest assembly of young comic talent in Britain in this century. Moore was teamed with Alan Bennett, later a successful playwright; Jonathan Miller, the cerebral opera producer and medical doctor, and Peter Cook, a surreal comic talent and a famously dissipated talent.

Moore's whimsical sense of humor fitted oddly with the more savage satirical style of his partners. "Apart from his musical contributions to the show," Cook wrote in Esquire in 1974, "Dudley's suggestions were treated with benign contempt by the rest of us."

One of Moore's celebrated contributions to the show was his impersonation of the pianist Dame Myra Hess, playing a bombastic version of "Colonel Bogey's March" which he couldn't seem to end.

Moore and Cook formed a fast friendship and later teamed on television as Dud and Pete on "Not Only ... but Also," a sketch comedy series. They also plumbed the depths of taste and decency in a series of recordings as "Derek and Clive."

Cook and Moore made their screen debuts in "The Wrong Box" in 1966, and followed up the next year with another success, "Bedazzled."

Moore wrote, starred and composed the score for his next film, "30 is a Dangerous Age," in 1968.

Moore and Cook teamed again in 1971 for a comedy review titled "Beyond the Fridge," which was a success in London and a smash on Broadway in the 1973-74 season, with the pair winning a special Tony award for their "unique contribution to the theater of comedy."

Cook returned to England but Moore settled in Southern California, where he met the director Blake Edwards in a therapy group. When George Segal walked out of Edwards' production of "10," the director turned to Moore.

The 1979 film, co-starring Bo Derek, established Moore as a Hollywood star. Two years later, he had another: "Arthur," playing a rich drunk who falls for Liza Minnelli.

That marked the peak of Moore's film career, though he made several more films including a sequel to "Arthur" in 1988.

Music remained part of Moore's life, both as a jazz pianist and as a parodist.

"I can't imagine not having music in my life, playing for myself or for other people. If I was asked, 'Which would you give up,' I'd have to say acting," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1988.

Moore married Suzy Kendall in 1958, Tuesday Weld in 1975, Brogan Lane in 1988 and Nicole Rothschild in 1994. He had a son, Patrick, by his second marriage and a son, Nicholas, by his fourth.



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Old 03-27-2002, 09:16 PM   #2
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R.I.P.
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Old 03-27-2002, 09:59 PM   #3
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So sad....I really liked Dudley Moore....I remember going to see "10" on a first date with this guy I was crazy about...the movie made me laugh SO hard that he never called me again!

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Old 03-28-2002, 07:19 PM   #4
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and Billy Wilder and Ozzy Osbourne's drummer...we should have a wake,and we could sing some of their favourite songs.
Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore,a dynamic duo. I have heard them do some very funny routines.I have Milton berle chatting with Elvis Presley on video tape somewhere.
Talented men all.
((((family and fans)))))

[This message has been edited by cass (edited 03-28-2002).]
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Old 03-28-2002, 07:39 PM   #5
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So sad, two funny guys gone on the same day. At least Milton had a nice long life. I think Dudly had it really tough the last couple years.
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