Milton Berle

Comedian / Performer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Milton Berle (1908-2002) fondly recalls "Mama Berle" and her influence on his early career when he started performing as a child in Vaudeville. He discusses how his Vaudeville background prepared him for television, talks extensively about the success of Texaco Star Theater, and reveals how he earned the moniker "Uncle Miltie." He speaks of the challenges of performing live and creating fresh material each week, and openly discusses his reputation as a "perfectionist" and the legendary rumor that he stole jokes from others. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on June 11, 1996 in Los Angeles, CA.

"One Tuesday night, we had four minutes to go and I had to stall. I had to start ad-libbing. I said, 'I want to thank you, especially the boys and girls, and my little nephews and nieces that are watching, this is your Uncle Miltie saying good night.' I said it once. The next day, I went to Boston and pass two hardhat workers. One of them said, 'Hi, Uncle Miltie!' First person that ever called me Uncle Miltie. I told this story to my mother. She said, 'That's a very good moniker for you.' From then on, I said Uncle Miltie."

Highlights
Milton Berle on how the moniker "Uncle Miltie" came about
04:34
Milton Berle on getting approached by Texaco to star in their new TV show, Texaco Star Theater
04:04
Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song
01:25
Milton Berle on the lore of him stealing jokes for Texaco Star Theater
03:51
Milton Berle on how he'd like to be remembered
02:34
Milton Berle on the proper way to smoke a cigar
01:04
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On the proper way to smoke a cigar; on his early years and influences; on his mother's dedication to him and to his career
12:55
On the highlight's of his career as a child performer; on his work in silent films and his start in Vaudeville
On how he got his start in television with Texaco Star Theater
01:53

Chapter 2

On his Vaudeville influences; on getting approached by Texaco to star in a television show for them; on his time in radio and why radio wasn't his best medium
15:00
On his first television appearance; on television telethons; on others discouraging him from pursuing television
07:55

Chapter 3

On the beginnings of Texaco Star Theater; on how he gathered material for the show and on the lore of him stealing jokes
21:24
On the rapid pace of going through material for Texaco Star Theater
02:44
On the technological innovations that occurred during the early years of Texaco Star Theater
03:24

Chapter 4

On laugh tracks recorded from the early days of his show; on the Texaco Star Theater theme song and his wild costumes on the show (including the famous June bride costume)
09:24
On memorable live television mishaps on Texaco Star Theater
12:11
On the mishaps with the "Barber of Seville" sketch on Texaco Star Theater and how it affected the subsequent sketch
04:30

Chapter 5

On a typical work-week on Texaco Star Theater
10:01
On his motivation for working as hard as he did; on his drive for perfection; on directing rehearsals with a whistle
05:01
On altercations that resulted from his perfectionism; on a memorable flashback scene on Texaco Star Theater
06:35
On a fight with his brother Frank; on memorable guest stars on Texaco Star Theater; on booking the African-American group The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater
08:48

Chapter 6

On getting The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater; on how the moniker "Uncle Miltie" came about; on Texaco Star Theater winning Best Kinescope show and Milton Berle winning Most Outstanding Kinescope Personality at the 2nd Emmy Awards
06:59
On trying to get Hollywood moguls to embrace television; on signing a lifetime contract with NBC
10:18
On the final broadcast of The Milton Berle Show
04:07
On dramatic roles he took; on his thoughts on the future of television in the 21st century
05:28

Chapter 7

On his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Alan King, Elvis Presley and Rod Steiger
16:18
On his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Woody Allen, Henny Youngman, Phil Silvers, and Red Skelton
13:48

Chapter 8

On how he'd like to be remembered; on the truth about his "endowment"
04:29
Shows

Beverly Hills, 90210

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Milton Berle on his appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210
00:28

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theater winning Best Kinescope show and Milton Berle winning Most Outstanding Kinescope Personality at the 2nd Emmy Awards
01:31

Milton Berle Show, The (1954-56)

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Milton Berle on the final broadcast of The Milton Berle Show
04:07

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Milton Berle on complimenting Rod Steiger on his performance in "Marty"
02:40

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse: "Marty"

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Milton Berle on complimenting Rod Steiger on his performance in "Marty"
02:40

Texaco Star Theater

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Milton Berle on how he got his start in television with Texaco Star Theater
01:53
Milton Berle on getting approached by Texaco to star in their new TV show, Texaco Star Theater
04:04
Milton Berle on the beginnings of Texaco Star Theater
02:46
Milton Berle on the very first broadcast of Texaco Star Theater
02:12
Milton Berle on how he contributed to the success of Texaco Star Theater
07:14
Milton Berle on not being afraid of entering television with Texaco Star Theater
02:28
Milton Berle on his material for the first shows of Texaco Star Theater
00:35
Milton Berle on bringing writers on staff for Texaco Star Theater
02:16
Milton Berle on the lore of him stealing jokes for Texaco Star Theater
03:51
Milton Berle on the rapid pace of going through material for Texaco Star Theater
02:44
Milton Berle on the technological innovations that occurred during the early years of Texaco Star Theater
03:24
Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song
01:25
Milton Berle on his costumes on Texaco Star Theater
05:30
Milton Berle on memorable live television mishaps on Texaco Star Theater
08:35
Milton Berle on a memorable live television mishap with Red Buttons on Texaco Star Theater
03:36
Milton Berle on the mishap with the "Barber of Seville" sketch on Texaco Star Theater and how it affected the subsequent sketch
04:26
Milton Berle on a typical work-week on Texaco Star Theater
10:01
Milton Berle on directing Texaco Star Theater rehearsals with a whistle
01:57
Milton Berle on altercations on Texaco Star Theater that resulted from his perfectionism
02:10
Milton Berle on a memorable flashback scene on Texaco Star Theater
04:25
Milton Berle on a fight with his brother Frank while on Texaco Star Theater
02:26
Milton Berle on memorable guest stars on Texaco Star Theater
06:12
Milton Berle on getting The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater
00:53
Milton Berle on how the moniker "Uncle Miltie" came about
05:17
Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theater winning Best Kinescope show and Milton Berle winning Most Outstanding Kinescope Personality at the 2nd Emmy Awards
01:31
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song and its strong ties to the show's sponsor
01:25

Bloopers

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Milton Berle on memorable live television mishaps on Texaco Star Theater
08:35
Milton Berle on a memorable live television mishap with Red Buttons on Texaco Star Theater
03:36
Milton Berle on the mishap with the "Barber of Seville" sketch on Texaco Star Theater and how it affected the subsequent sketch
04:26

Diversity in Television

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Milton Berle on booking the African-American group The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater
05:31

Historic Events and Social Change

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Milton Berle on booking the African-American group The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater
05:31

Minorities

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Milton Berle on booking the African-American group The Four Step Brothers on Texaco Star Theater
05:31

Pop Culture

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Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song
01:25

TV Theme Songs

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Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song
01:25

Technological Innovation

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Milton Berle on the technological innovations that occurred during the early years of Texaco Star Theater
03:24

Television Industry

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Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theater theme song and its strong ties to the show's sponsor
01:25
Milton Berle on his thoughts on the future of television in the 21st century
02:09
Genres

Drama Series

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Milton Berle on his appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210
00:28

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Milton Berle on getting approached by Texaco to star in their new TV show, Texaco Star Theater
04:04
Milton Berle on the beginnings of Texaco Star Theater
02:46
Milton Berle on the lore of him stealing jokes for Texaco Star Theater
03:51
Milton Berle on how he contributed to the success of Texaco Star Theater
07:14
Milton Berle on memorable live television mishaps on Texaco Star Theater
08:35
Milton Berle on a memorable live television mishap with Red Buttons on Texaco Star Theater
03:36
Milton Berle on the mishap with the "Barber of Seville" sketch on Texaco Star Theater and how it affected the subsequent sketch
04:26
Milton Berle on a typical work-week on Texaco Star Theater
10:01
Milton Berle on memorable guest stars on Texaco Star Theater
06:12
Milton Berle on a memorable flashback scene on Texaco Star Theater
04:25
People

Woody Allen

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Woody Allen
03:01

Buddy Arnold

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Milton Berle on bringing writers on staff for Texaco Star Theater - songwriter/writer Buddy Arnold
02:16

George Burns

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Milton Berle on appearing on Vaudeville with George Burns
00:30

Red Buttons

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Milton Berle on a memorable live television mishap with Red Buttons on Texaco Star Theater
03:36

Charlie Chaplin

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Milton Berle on appearing in films with Charlie Chaplin
01:01

Charlie Douglas

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Milton Berle on laugh tracks recorded from the early days of his show, created by Charlie Douglas
02:17

Gene Kelly

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked
04:50

Alan King

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Alan King
04:50

Elvis Presley

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Elvis Presley
04:19

Phil Silvers

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Phil Silvers
01:00

Red Skelton

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Red Skelton
04:14

Rod Steiger

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Rod Steiger
05:39

Rudy Vallee

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Milton Berle on doing a radio show with Rudy Vallee
01:47

Walter Winchell

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Milton Berle on the lore of him stealing jokes for Texaco Star Theater
03:51

Henny Youngman

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Milton Berle on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Henny Youngman
04:54

Darryl F. Zanuck

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Milton Berle on approaching Darryl Zanuck with an idea for "The Twentieth Century Fox Follies"
03:28

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