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Milton Berle: Old Time Radio Star

Milton Berle: Old Time Radio Star

Posted by OTR World on 14th Oct 2018

Milton Berle

From 1934–36, Berle appeared regularly on The Rudy Vallee Hour, and he attracted publicity as a regular on The Gillette Original Community Sing, a Sunday night comedy-variety program broadcast on CBS from September 6, 1936 to August 29, 1937. In 1939, he was the host of Stop Me If You've Heard This One with panelists spontaneously finishing jokes sent in by listeners.

In the late 1940s, he canceled well-paying nightclub appearances to expand his radio career. Three Ring Time, a comedy-variety show sponsored by Ballantine Ale, was followed by a 1943 program sponsored by Campbell's Soups. The audience participation show Let Yourself Go (1944–1945) could best be described as "slapstick radio"with studio audience members acting out long suppressed urges—often directed at host Berle. Kiss and Make Up, on CBS in 1946, featured the problems of contestants decided by a jury from the studio audience with Berle as the judge. Berle also made guest appearances on many comedy-variety radio programs during the 1930s and 1940s.

Scripted by Hal Block and Martin Ragaway, The Milton Berle Show brought Berle together with Arnold Stang, later a familiar face as Berle's TV sidekick. Others in the cast were Pert Kelton, Mary Schipp, Jack Albertson, Arthur Q. Bryan, Ed Begley, Brazilian singer Dick Farney, and announcer Frank Gallop. Sponsored by Philip Morris, it aired on NBC from March 11, 1947 until April 13, 1948.

Berle later described this series as "the best radio show I ever did ... a hell of a funny variety show". It served as a springboard for Berle's emergence as television's first major star.