THE BRITISH PHIL SILVERS APPRECIATION SOCIETY UPDATE:
A very big thank you to everyone who has taken time to sign the Phil Silvers Guest Book. We've now been live for 8 months and we're pleased to report response has been tremendous! Since the re-launch of the site we've had almost 18000 visitors. A real testament to the enduring legacy of Phil Silvers.
We've also seen the Facebook group grow at a steady rate, and we've recruited more enlistees to our Bring Back Bilko campaign!
Please be sure to bookmark us because this site is an ongoing project and will be constantly updated with new material.
Steve & Mick
KEEP IN TOUCH
Come and join The British PHIL SILVERS Appreciation Society on Facebook! Enjoy our extensive Photo Gallery, Video Library and the chance to hook-up with Phil-fans from all over the World. Simply click on the link below to sign up to Facebook.....and join the only official Appreciation Society in honour of Phil Silvers!
and why not pay us a visit at YouTube
Sydney Chaplin, eldest son of Charlie Chaplin, has died at the age of 82, at his home in Palm Springs, Los Angeles. Sydney, an actor in his own right, was a successful Tony Award winner who made notable stage appearances in BELLS ARE RINGING and FUNNY GIRL. He passed away on March 3rd 2009. Sydney appeared in the 1hr live BILKO special KEEP IN STEP with Diana Dors.
Left: Sydney Chaplin announces Charlie Chaplin's Commemorative stamp
USPS DEDICATE STAMP TO PHIL SILVERS IN 2009
The United States Postal Service will release a set of 20 stamps commemorating the early years of television in 2009.
Among the shows to receive stamps are The Phil Silvers Show, The Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners, The Ed Sullivan Show, I Love Lucy, Texaco Star Theater, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet and Lassie.
According to Variety.com, the stamps will be unveiled on August 11th in Los Angeles. TVWeek has a small image of the set available.
Left: A set of images to be used on the stamps.
1980's STYLE SGT BILKO T SHIRTS!
Anyone remember these classic tee shirts from the mid 1980's? That long-ago decade spawned quite a few Bilko designs, but this one stood out as the shirt every Phil fan wanted to be seen in! Well after receiving a few requests from the Phil Silvers Yahoo Group we're now looking at commissioning a fresh batch through the Society! If you are interested in purchasing one of these tees please email email@example.com with:
Your name/T-Shirt Size/Colour (Specify Black or White)
If we receive enough interest we'll organise a production run and then advise of final cost. As in the past these tee shirts will be available to fans at the price they cost to print (plus postage & packing).
Candace Silvers, Phil's daughter, sent this brief message for all Phil-fans everywhere:
"Your continued appreciation for my fathers talent and work is a true blessing to me and my family... he was/is a giant to us all!"
Check out Candace's website at:
ADMIRAL MOTTI SALUTES PHIL!
At last year's Memorabilia show in Birmingham we met Richard Le Parmentier, who portrayed Admiral Motti in Star Wars: A New Hope. Originally from the United States, Star Wars was Richard's third film after moving to Britain in 1974. Richard has appeared in over fifty films and TV shows.
He now lives in Bath, UK and works as a screenwriter. He is currently developing a comedy-drama series for the BBC and is busy writing a feature film.He actually approached us at the show after spotting our Phil Silvers T-shirts!
We spoke at great length and it was obvious from the outset Richard holds Phil in high esteem, a trait which seems to run through showbusiness on both sides of the Atlantic. Phil's humour and talent is far reaching and his influence is etched into the fabric of comedy. We are always astonished that people from all walks of the entertainment industry revere Phil as a comedy genius... I'm sure you'll all agree they show extremely good taste!
Check out Richard:
We recently made contact with Bob Hastings. Bob appeared in several episodes of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, most notably in TRANSFER as Sgt. Beecher. As a by-the -book Sergeant, Beecher became a bigger thorn in the Colonel's side than Bilko ever was!
"I had to learn pages of dialogue and regulations just to get it right." said Bob. "Eddie Montagne was my closest, dearest friend and it was his idea to have me play Beecher! I worked with Eddie on MCHALE'S NAVY too!"
By any standards Bob has enjoyed a phenomenal and hugely prolific career. His credits include CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU?, THE MUNSTERS, BATMAN, HOGAN'S HEROES, THE ODD COUPLE, ALL IN THE FAMILY, QUINCY & THE INCREDIBLE HULK to name but a few.
He still recalls his time on BILKO with great affection and had this to say..."I did a few BILKO shows but I did one in particular where I replaced Phil. Everytime the Colonel asked me to do something I would come back with a regulation as to why I couldn't do it! Of all the shows I have done, and I have done quite a few...MCHALE'S NAVY, HOGAN'S HEROES and the like..you could replace anybody. But you couldn't replace Phil. There's nobody like Phil. He was the greatest!"
Larry Storch is perhaps best remembered for his role as Corporal Agarn in the popular 1960's comedy F-TROOP. Larry has appeared in countless TV shows
over the years including YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, THE LARRY STORCH SHOW, GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, GARRISON'S GORILLAS, GOMER PYLE USC, THE PERSUADERS etc. He also appeared in two episodes of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW - BILKO'S BOPSTER and BILKO JOINS THE NAVY.
Larry wanted me to pass on this message:
"I just want to say hi to all the Phil Silvers fans! He was just one of the great comics of all-time. He was up there with the greatest...I mean comics like Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason! I adored him and he was a joy to work with!"
Larry is 86 now and living happily in retirement in New York.
"These days I take life easy. I play my saxophone, go to dinner, take in a few shows and that's pretty much the way I like it!"
THE BRITISH PHIL SILVERS APPRECIATION SOCIETY: Update April 2009:
Get Fell-in! Following a great day at the Autographica event in Birmingham, check out our updates in the FEATURES section.
Interviews with George Kennedy and Martine Beswicke just added!
There will be more to follow....with memories from Phil's MAD WORLD co-star Mickey Rooney, close friend Ernest Borgnine and more recollections of his BILKO days from Oscar-winning actor George Kennedy!
EXCITING NEWS FROM LA!
This message just arrived from Iren regarding the PHIL SILVERS STAMP ceremony.....
Tentative plans call for The Early TV Memories stamp ceremony to be held at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre, 5230 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601-3109 on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 10.30 a.m.
1980's STYLE SGT.BILKO T-SHIRTS UPDATE
A big 'thank you' to everyone who has expressed an interest in the limited run Society T-shirts.We now have enough orders to proceed and will contact all who have ordered shortly.In the meantime if any new members would like to place a T-shirt order please contact us at the e-mail addresses at the bottom of the page.
PHIL SILVERS FACEBOOK GROUP HITS 300 RECRUITS!
We're pleased to report recruits to our Phil Silvers Facebook group have trebled since the launch of the 'new-look' website! So a big thank you to everyone for your loyal support. We have arranged some special Phil Silvers goodies for the 300th member, so start spreading the word! At this rate we'll hit 500 in no time, and remember the more activity we have on both sites, the better chance of getting Bilko back on our TV screens...
And don't forget to check out Mick's latest videos, dear Billy Sands in The Munster's Revenge and Steve and Mick's appearance on Comic Relief way back in 1989... perhaps it's about time we organised another 24 hour Bilkothon?
MEMORIES OF PHIL
It is always a pleasure to welcome aboard new members, and even more exciting when they have a personal story to tell! One of our new recruits Michael Townsend Wright was very lucky to see Phil performing live on Broadway in 1972.
As many will know Phil just loved performing on stage, and after Forum closed in the US he made a remarkable recovery and toured his beloved England with a new production alongside seasoned veterans Arnold Ridley (Dads Army) and Trevor Jones.
Here is Michael's short message originally posted on the Facebook group:
I had the privilege of seeing Phil Silvers on Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1972, shortly before his illness. He was wonderful; full of energy and theatrical magic on the stage. The opening number, Comedy Tonight, is happily imbedded in my memory. Although relatively young (very relatively!), I was Joey Faye's final sketch partner for about six years and I would often reflect upon Phil and Joey's days together with Minsky.
Michael Townsend Wright
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR SILVERS!
Please join us in wishing Phil a very Happy Birthday for 11 May. It was on this day in 1911, 98 years ago, little Philip Silver was born into a family of 10 children at 417 Pennslyvania Avenue, Brownsville the roughest of Brooklyn's Jewish ghettos. From such humble beginings who would have thought that Phil would eventually go on to become one of the world's best-loved entertainers?
From his initial discovery by Gus Edwards at Coney Island to Vaudeville, Burlesque, Broadway, USO tours (With Frank Sinatra), Radio, Hollywood, Television and ultimately worldwide acclaim as Master Sergeant Ernest G Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show, arguably one of the greatest television comedies of all time!
The late Red Buttons delivered a moving eulogy at Phil's funeral in 1985 and again in 2000 at the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. Red theorized Phil just wasn't around long enough.' 'If Phil had been able to catch another 20 years in the business, which most of the guys seemed to be doing - Milton Berle, 93, Henry Youngman, 91, George Burns, a big number - he would have been royalty.'
Well of course in every true fans' eyes Phil has always been royalty! Who knows what he might have achieved had he had those 20 years. More film roles, another TV series? Who knows?
And now as the 100th anniversary approaches one thing is for sure...the legacy that Phil gave us grows in importance and stature with each passing year. His influence on generations of comics and performers is without question. His contribution to the entertainment industry and particularly television is immeasurable. Phil you were a Top Banana and in the words of Red Buttons "If you're a comedian what else is there to aspire to?"
Happy Birthday Phil!
Actor Bruce Kimmel is another famous new recruit to the Phil Silvers Facebook Group. Mr Kimmel has enjoyed a long and varied Hollywood career. He wrote, directed and starred in the cult movie hit, The First Nudie Musical. He performed those same duties on his second film The Creature Wasn't Nice (aka Naked Space), with Leslie Nielsen, Cindy Williams and Patrick Macnee. He also co-created the story for the hit film, The Faculty, directed by Robert Rodriguez.
As an actor, Mr. Kimmel has guest-starred on most of the long-running television shows of the Seventies, including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Partridge Family, The Donny and Marie Show and many others. Here is Bruce's recollection of working on the much maligned 1979 movie Racquet and his chance meeting with Phil.
I loved Phil and I loved Bilko. I went to school with Mike Lembeck and was quite close with Harvey and Co. And I remember that as a teen, I was on one of my first dates, trying to find a party in Beverly Hills (walking, of course) and being quite hopelessly lost, and seeing a man in front of his house. I went up to ask him directions, and it was Phil Silvers! He gave them to me with kindness and humor! Years later we appeared in a horrible, horrible film together (although we didn't share any scenes) It was quite sad that he had to take part in that debacle, but there were several oldies but goodies in the film. He and Jack Benny were my faves. The film was the God awful Racquet. It had the dubious distinction of being the first film of Tanya Roberts. Bert Convy was in it, and Bjorn Borg and Linda Day George and Edie Adams (her scenes were with Phil if I'm remembering correctly - I've only seen it once). I did it as a favor to the director, with whom I'd worked before, David Winters. The story about Phil giving directions really was funny to me. I approached him (I think I was all of fourteen) on Palm Drive and he turned around and I realized immediately who he was (how could you not!) and I just gawked like an idiot and said "I know who you are" and he said that was great but that info wouldn't help me find the address I was looking for! I laughed and laughed and he just did his Phil looks and was wonderful!
Look out for an extended interview coming soon! In the meantime check out Bruce's website:
PHIL SILVERS ON YOUTUBE!
We are thrilled to announce that Phil's page on YouTube has now received over 100,000 hits. This is absolutely phenomenal and a true testament to the legacy of Phil Silvers!
We thank you for your support. If you haven't paid a visit to the page yet simply click on the link http://www.youtube.com/user/mickclews
DICK VAN DYKE TO PEN MEMOIRS
Dick Van Dyke is currently writing his memoirs with a release set for 2010! The 83 year old actor and comedian - known for The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - will write about his lengthy career in the book.
Among Dick's early television appearances were two episodes of The Phil Silvers Show - Hillbilly Whiz and Bilko's Cousin. During the 1960's and early 1970's Dick established himself as one of the world's most popular film and television stars.
More recently Dick has starred in the phenomenally successful TV series Diagnosis Murder as Dr. Mark Sloane and enjoyed renewed movie success in the smash-hit Ben Stiller movie Night At The Museum (2006).
Let's hope that Dick's time on Bilko is documented in detail in the book.
NANCY WITH THE LAUGHING FACE
It has been well documented that Phil Silvers had a hand in writing Frank Sinatra's smash-hit song Nancy With The Laughing Face. Phil was solely responsible for writing the lyrics to the song, later collaborating with Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke. Here is a short piece by Examiner and Sinatra writer Rick Busciglio explaining the origins of the song.
The authorship of the Sinatra classic 'Nancy With The Laughing Face' is discussed/covered at great lengths on both the internet and in several books covering the tunes of the great American songbook. In every case they mostly have it wrong. Here is my personal story:
In 1979 I was working with songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen on a TV special with Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope that was never produced. Jimmy told me that one day (circa 1942) he and his lyricist Johnny Burke were working at 20th Century Fox composing for a film. While Burke was out of their writers bungalow, Phil Silvers, the comedian, a friend to both, entered and suggested to Jimmy that they write a song for Johnny's wife, Bessie, who was soon to celebrate a birthday. Silvers provided the lyrics, later revised by Van Heusen and Burke.
At the party they sang 'Bessie With A Laughing Face'. It was such a hit that they used it at other female birthday events. When they sang it as 'Nancy...With The Laughing Face' at little Nancy Sinatra's birthday party, Frank broke down and cried, thinking that it was written specially for his daughter - the trio wisely didn't correct him. Jimmy assigned his royalties to Nancy after Frank recorded it for Columbia."
Click on the link below to hear Rick discuss the origins of the song.....
(Article courtesy of Examiner/Rick Busciglio)
BENNY HILL MEMORABILIA AUCTION - includes a fan letter from Phil!
Benny Hill’s ‘Fred Scuttle’ beret and glasses are to go under the auctioneer’s hammer next month.
The memorabilia is to be sold by Aldridge & Son auction house in Devizes on August 15 along with a fan letter Hill sent from Bilko star Phil Silvers. The Silvers connection extends further as comedy legend Joey Bishop (Top Banana, The Court Martial) collaborated with Benny Hill on his 1991 TV special.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "The beret and glasses are probably the most recognisable props used by Benny Hill and Fred Scuttle was his most famous character."
I imagine that any serious fan or collector of showbiz memorabilia will be interested in buying these items.
The vendor bought them in November 1992 when they were sold by the executor of Benny Hill's estate and he has now decided to part with them.
People who collect these things tend to have them for a certain period of time. They are more like custodians who eventually pass them on to other enthusiasts.
Benny Hill was a British great and we are delighted to be able to offer items associated with Fred Scuttle.
Mr Aldridge said of the Phil Silvers letter: "It shows just how well-liked Benny Hill was across the Atlantic."
The beret, which has a label inside which reads 'British Fez Company, Berets Knitted and Lined 1953', has an estimate of between £700 to £1,000.
The value of the wire spectacles is also up to £1,000 and the Phil Silvers letter has an estimate of between £500 to £600.
Benny Hill was born in Southampton and educated in Bournemouth. He died of heart failure in April 1992 alone at his home in Teddington, south west London.
The Benny Hill Show ran from the late 1960s until 1989. Its slapstick content often involved Benny Hill being chased by scantily-clad young women.
Critics claimed it was sexist and dubbed Benny Hill as nothing more than a dirty old man.
But the show remained hugely popular and celebrity fans included Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson, Michael Caine and Barbara Windsor.
One also imagines how much Phil's letter will ultimately fetch. There seems to be an abundance of dedicated Phil Silvers autographs available, but a hand written letter from one comedy legend to another is quite rare. The Society will watch this auction with great interest!
CLASSIC TV SHOWS GET USPS COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS
Carl Reiner, June Lockhart, Barbara Hale and Tracey Silvers among celebs at dedication ceremony Tuesday in NoHo
The U.S. Postal Service will hold a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the 44-cent "Early TV Memories" series of first-class commemorative stamps at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 5230 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood 91605.
Participants at the event will include Carl Reiner, director, producer, writer and actor; Jayne Meadows Allen, actress (Steve Allen's wife); John Shaffner, chairman, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; James Miller, III, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors member attendees; June Lockhart (Timmy's mother Ruth Martin of "Lassie"); Lassie; Barbara Hale (Della Street of "Perry Mason"); Ozzie and Harriet's granddaughter Tracy Nelson (actress); Groucho Marx's son Arthur Marx; Jack Webb's wife Opal; William ("Hopalong Cassidy") Boyd's wife Grace Bradley Boyd; Milton Berle's wife Lorna Berle; Clayton ("The Lone Ranger") Moore's daughter Dawn Moore; Phil Silvers' daughter Tracey Silvers; William Talman's ("Perry Mason" District Attorney) son, actor Tim Talman; Steve Allen's son Bill Allen; and Red Skelton's wife Lothian Skelton.
The Early TV Memories programs commemorated in the 20-stamp set include: "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet"; "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" The Dinah Shore Show"; "Dragnet"; "The Ed Sullivan Show"; "The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show"; "Hopalong Cassidy"; "The Honeymooners"; "Howdy Doody"; "I Love Lucy"; "Kukla, Fran and Ollie"; "Lassie"; "The Lone Ranger"; "Perry Mason"; "The Phil Silvers Show"; "The Red Skelton Show"; "Texaco Star Theater"; "The Tonight Show"; "Twilight Zone"; and "You Bet Your Life."
Some of the memorabilia on display will include The Lone Ranger silver bullet and mask Clayton Moore wore for personal appearances; Howdy Doody; Buffalo Bob's tunic; and Groucho's "duck" from "You Bet Your Life."
Stamp Ceremony Update:
On August 11, 2009, in North Hollywood, California, the Postal Service™ issued the 44–cent, Early TV Memories commemorative stamps in 20 designs in a pane of 20 stamps, and a booklet of 20 premium stamped postal cards, designed by Carl T. Herrman of North Las Vegas, Nevada.
With these stamps, the U.S. Postal Service® commemorates 20 great shows from TV’s golden age. For more than half a century, Americans have turned to television for entertainment and information. To those watching in its early days, TV offered the additional excitement of the new. Whether laughing at the first situation comedies, tingling at crime dramas, or identifying with ordinary people who had their day in the spotlight on game shows, audiences were charmed by the novelty of the young medium.
The Phil Silvers Show Review:
This subversive comedy, set at a fictional army base in Kansas, made a hero of conniving Army Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko, a con man who flourished even in the confines of the military. With a highly developed sense of irony and acerbic wit that kept his essential decency hidden, Bilko (Phil Silvers) saw through the American dream.
BENNY HILL AUCTION UPDATE:
Phil's letter to Benny Hill dated 6 December 1979 goes under the hammer tomorrow 15 August. Estimate is between £500-600. Here is a transcript of the actual letter:
My Dear Mr Hill,
I have no idea of how or when you will receive this letter, but I am compelled to write to you and tell you how much I admire and enjoy your program shown here every night at 11.30pm. Los Angeles time.
I won't be coy and not acknowledge that mine is a well known name in America and more importantly in your country.
Most of my life I have been an incurable Anglophile and watching you and your funny family of performers have indeed increased my Anglophilia.
Every good wish and a sincere T.T.F.N.
GOODBYE LARRY GELBART
Larry Gelbart, who created the classic TV adaptation of Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" and whose talented comedy writing stretched from the days of radio to cutting-edge cable shows, died at his home in Beverly Hills Friday morning. He was 81.
He had been diagnosed with cancer in June, his wife Pat said to the Los Angeles Times.
Gelbart, the principal writer on "M*A*S*H" during the first four years of the hit series, was responsible for 97 segments of the show, one of TV's best and most literate comedies. He also directed some of the early episodes of this ground breaking series.
Beginning as a gag writer in days of radio and honing his comic craft for such talents as Jack Carson and Eddie Cantor. Gelbart was a versatile stylist who succeeded in various formats, including the stage. He went on to write gags for Bob Hope, Jack Paar, Red Buttons, Jack Carson, Joan Davis and Phil Silvers.
In 1953 he accepted Sid Caesar's offer of $1,000 a week to work for "Caesar's Hour," joining a legendary writing team that included Reiner, Mel Brooks and Neil Simon.
"He's the fastest of the fast, the wittiest man in the business," Brooks once said of him.
Gelbart won an Emmy with co-producer Gene Reynolds for "M*A*S*H" as well as three WGA Awards for the episodes he wrote. He picked up two Tonys for writing the books for the musicals "A Funny Thing Happened to the Way to the Forum" and "City of Angels." He collected six awards from the Writers Guild of America, including the Laurel Award for TV Writing Achievement. And he earned two Oscar nominations for the screenplays for "Oh, God" and "Tootsie."
Obviously there are many connections with Phil, not only Forum and the recently screened Judy Garland Special, but he created the pilot episode of Bel Air Patrol in 1967. Phil starred as Eddie Skinner, a Bilkoesque patrol man in plush Bel Air. Sadly such a delicious premise didn't make the jump to a fully fledged series.
He is survived by his wife, their two children Adam and Becky, two stepchildren Gary and Paul Markowitz, six grandchildren and two great-grandchild.
So long Larry and God Bless.
SPANDAU BALLET CHILL OUT WITH SERGEANT BILKO!
It's two decades since they last shot a video together but Spandau Ballet proved they're back to their best.
We know this much is true because we joined the middle-aged new romantics on the set of the promo for their new single, Once More. Singer Tony Hadley's voice was as strong as ever as he belted out the tune yesterday.
And studio staff looked on in delight as the 80s icons also ran through some of their classics. We arrived at the Air Studios in North London expecting to see some of the dressing room fireworks the band were once famous for. But instead the lads were doubled up in hysterics watching classic 50s comedy The Phil Silvers Show/Sergeant Bilko. Tony said: "You're probably too young but we love this. It helps us to chill out."
Well done Tony & Co! As the ole Sarge himself would've said, 'You show extreme good taste'! Perhaps a mention on any forthcoming tours might make those illusive and stubborn TV executives sit up and take notice!
SO LONG SOUPY SALES
Soupy Sales, who died on Oct. 22 at age 83, was born Milton Supman in Franklinton, N.C., where his father Irving was in the dry goods business.
"The local Ku Klux Klan," Soupy told me, "had to come to this Jew to buy sheets."
He gave credit to everyone and the KKK loved him for that. They even asked him to join them.
After Soupy's father died, his mother Sadie worked 12 hours a day in another southern shtetl, Huntington, W.Va., to put her three sons through school. One became a doctor, the other a lawyer, and Soupy the class terror?
After graduation from Marshall College in Huntington he went on years later to become the rising star of a 1960s television show where he made a career of throwing some 19,000 custard pies in the kisser of such victims as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Jerry Lewis and many others who pleaded to be a target on the highly rated nonsensical children's show.
Soup, who saw himself as a straight man in a world full of kooks, told his life story - better than any obit writer could - in his book, "Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times." Nipsey Russell, Kenny Kramer, Larry Storch and Vincent Pastore (Pussy of "The Sopranos") came to Soupy's book party at the Friars Club in 2001 where, instead of a pie in the eye, they hurled zany jokes in his direction.
Appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, Soupy asked the host, "Mind if I throw you a pie?" Sure, Sullivan said, then hesitantly asked, "What's in it?"
He needn't worry. The pie was topped, as always, with shaving cream.
Mickey Freeman, who played Private Zimmerman on "The Phil Silvers Show" in the late '50s, reported at the Friars that Soupy's book was already in its third printing. "The first two were blurred."
Mickey was on a roll, so he continued: "Soupy, your book saved my house. I had a card table with one short leg."
Bernie Ilson, Soupy's publicist for 10 years from 1965, told me his client was the easiest to work with. "What you saw on the show was the same in real life," Ilson said. "Always on."
Soupy was hard working, getting up at 5 a.m. every weekday to prepare for a show that went live at 10 a.m.
"It was a one-man operation," Ilson said. "He wrote, planned and performed all by himself. It wasn't just for children - adults loved the slapstick humor."
Soupy once told a story about a beer commercial he did. He had 30 seconds to open a bottle of beer before the shoot, but there was no bottle opener. In a panic he called out if anybody had one. A sophisticated gentleman walked up, put his wooden leg on the table and opened the beer bottle with an opener attached to his leg.
Read more by Tim Boxer at www.15MinutesMagazine.com.
(Tribute courtesy Tim Boxer and thejewishweek.com)
The BPSAS stand
Anita Harris with Steve Everitt
The incomparable Mickey Freeman
Phil visits old friends Bing Crosby and Danny
Kaye during the filming of their 1954 film
In the following video Anita Harris recalls her time working on Carry On Follow That Camel with Phil Silvers and Kenneth Williams. The interviewer is Helen James and was recorded as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Carry On film series.
(Video is shown courtesy of Helen James & HELEN JAMES PRODUCTIONS LTD.)
Helen James has worked in the media industry for over 20 years. Helen has worked as a news reporter at GMTV and ITV Yorkshire. She has also worked as a presenter, entertainment correspondent and senior reporter at ITV Thames Valley.
"I am very excited to be now running my own video production company after 20 years working in TV news for the BBC and ITV." explains Helen. "We produce videos for a wide range of clients, from sole traders to multi-national companies."
Helen has interviewed many celebrities over the years including Sir Norman Wisdom, Daniel Craig, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon and Sir Michael Caine.
To see more of Helen's Carry On footage or celebrity interviews and films simply click on the link below...
Helen's website can now be viewed by clicking the following link:
Photos: (Top to Bottom)
Anita Harris & Phil Silvers
Kenneth Williams & Phil Silvers
FREE BILKO GOODIES!
2009 has been a resounding success for The British Phil Silvers Appreciation Society. With over 18,200 hits we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us, and more importantly Phil since it's launch in March.
As a small gesture of our appreciation we are proud to offer to the first 26 recruits an authentic Phil Silvers Show promo glass slide! This slide dates from 1955 and measure 2 x 2". Glass Promo Slides were used for press kits for TV shows, each slide has a black frame and silver matte with image in the centre. Produced by the Craftsmen Photo Company, 245 West 55th Street, NYC, this little piece of Bilko history can be yours for the paltry price of postage and packing!
Please email in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and register your name for one of these slides! Be quick we only have 26, so it's 'first come first served'! An offer even Bilko couldn't turn down, and when they're gone, they're gone!
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The British PHIL SILVERS Appreciation Society would sincerely like to thank Phil-fans everywhere for their support during the inception year of the BPSAS website.
When the BPSAS first launched in 1985 we could not have imagined that we would still be here 24 years later. This website has finally given us the chance to create the tribute for Phil that we always envisioned.
We will be adding new features, photos, videos and content in the forthcoming year and endeavour to make this a site worthy of the one and only Mr. Phil Silvers!
Our Facebook group membership has rocketed to almost 500 members and our page on YouTube has now received over 150,000 hits. This is just phenomenal and I know that Phil would be absolutely thrilled to know just how much his work is still appreciated around the world.
2011 will of course see the 100th Anniversary of Phil's birth and the BPSAS is hoping to organise an event to commemorate this occasion. News reaches us that there is a chance that The Phil Silvers Show may receive a Blue-Ray DVD release and we will of course keep you posted with any developments.
And so from Steve, myself and Phil's family we would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW
We have been informed that there is a chance that The Phil Silvers Show may be given a Blu-Ray DVD release. It is hoped that the release would include all four seasons as opposed to the paltry 18 episodes included on the 50th Anniversary DVD release. At this time we can only confirm that this is in the planning stages.
The British PHIL SILVERS Appreciation Society will be attending this years MEMORABILIA event to be held at the Birmingham NEC on March 27th & 28th. Photographs, T-Shirts, Postcards, DVD's and a host of other memorabilia will be available to Phil-fans. Anyone wishing to attend the event is welcome to contact us for further details.
AARON RUBEN AND BARRY BLITZER PASS AWAY
Two veteran TV comedy writers passed away last week:
Aaron Ruben, who worked on such shows as 'The Phil Silvers Show', 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.' and 'Sanford and Son,' and Barry Blitzer, who wrote for such series as 'Get Smart' and 'The Flintstones.' Ruben died Jan. 30 in Beverly Hills from complications of pneumonia, according to EW.com. He was 95.
Barry Blitzer died Jan. 27 in Santa Monica from complications after abdominal surgery. He was 80.
Ruben first entered the industry as a writer for radio comedies and segued to TV comedies in the 1950s, writing for Milton Berle and Sid Caesar, and making his directorial debut on 'The Phil Silvers Show.' He wrote and produced 'The Andy Griffith Show' for five seasons in the 1960s and served as executive producer for 'Gomer Pyle' before working as one of the original producers of 'Sanford and Son' in the 1970s.
Ruben was a longtime advocate for troubled children and was awarded the Writers Guild's Valentine Davies award in 2003 for his volunteer work. He is survived by his wife, actress Maureen Arthur.
Blitzer's long career -- he was the last surviving member of the group of writers who shared a 1956 Best Comedy Writing Emmy for 'The Phil Silvers Show', according to Variety -- included writing stints on episodes of 'The Love Boat,' 'Land of the Lost,' 'The Jetsons,' 'Get Smart,' 'Too Close for Comfort,' 'McHale's Navy,' 'Good Times' and 'The Jetsons.' He was also a major contributor to the Top Cat series which owed more than a passing nod to Sgt. Bilko.
Blitzer is survived by his wife, Elsie, a daughter and a sister.
Another two Bilko veterans now gone ~ our thoughts are with their friends and families. Goodbye Aaron and Barry ~ and thanks for the memories.
Top: Aaron Ruben
Bottom: Barry Blitzer
News from Hollywood that Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal are set to star in the new film adaptation of Damn Yankees.
The original Broadway musical debuted in 1955 and numerous productions have followed over the years, including a West End production in 1957. The musical was revived with great success on Broadway in 1994, the show then transferred to the West End in 1997.
Former Happy Days' writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel are set to write the script.
The musical will be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for New Line. The duo were behind New Line's other musical success, Hairspray.
Jake Gyllenhall will play Joe Boyd, a married middle-aged man whose love of a loser baseball team makes him do a deal with the devil, Mr Applegate (Jim Carrey). The devil then transforms him into a slugger to help his team win the World Series.
A television film of the musical was produced in 1967 and featured Phil Silvers as Mr. Applegate. Previous incarnations of Mr.Applegate have been played by Ray Walston, Bill Kerr, Vincent Price, Van Johnson and Victor Garber and Jerry Lewis.
Jerry Lewis played Mr.Applegate in both the Broadway and West End productions of Damn Yankees.
No casting details have yet been announced for the female role of Lola. Previous incarnations were played by Gwen Verdon, Elizabeth Seal, Lee Remick and Bebe Neuwrith.
The film is to be directed by Bandslam helmer Todd Graff for New Line Cinema.
No details have been announced as to a release date.
Left: Phil Silvers and Lee Remick in Damn Yankess (1967)
THE BRITISH PHIL SILVERS APPRECIATION SOCIETY ON FACEBOOK
We are pleased to report that membership of The British PHIL SILVERS
Appreciation Society on Facebook has now reached 500 members.
It's your chance to talk about Phil Silvers, leave comments or open discussions.
There are regular updates, a terrific video and photo gallery and the chance to hook-up with Phil-fans the world over.
If you would like to join us on Facebook simply click on the link below.....
The BPSAS display and sales stall at the March 27/28 event held at the NEC in Birmingham was a resounding success. Steve and I would like to thank the numerous Phil-fans who visited the display and spent their time chatting and sharing their thoughts on Phil Silvers.
We met many interesting people over the weekend including one young lady who has recently discovered that she is related to Phil. She is currently researching her family tree and we hope to bring you an update on her story as soon as possible.
As well as a small display of our Phil Silvers memorabilia collection we had a sales stall selling such items as DVD's, T-Shirts, Key-rings, Stills, Autographs and assorted memorabilia. We are pleased to announce that we will shortly be launching a sales page on the website.
The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the several chats we had with Anita Harris. Anita of course co-starred with Phil in Follow That Camel in 1967.
Anita was absolutely delightful. Warm, charming and very friendly and she could not enthuse enough about the time she spent working with Phil. Anita has very kindly agreed to give us an interview for the website.
Following the success of our first appearance at Memorabilia we are pleased to announce that we will be attending and displaying at the Memorabilia event to be held in November at the NEC in Birmingham. We will announce full details nearer to the event itself.
REMEMBERING JOEY FAYE
April 26, 2010 - It is thirteen years, to this very day that Burlesque legend Joey Faye passed away at the age of 87. Joey's career spanned almost 70 years and covered theatre, radio, films and television. As well as being a talented performer, Joey is also recognized as being the author of numerous Vaudeville and Burlesque sketches including Slowly I Turn and Floogle Street.
Joey was born Joseph Antony Palladino in New York's Greenwich Village, on 12 July 1909.He got his start in show business by appearing in 'amateur night' contests at various New York City movie theatres. He later took a job as a social director in a series of hotels up in the Catskills Borscht Belt Region, which led to a job at Minsky's burlesque in New York. He adopted the Faye surname whilst working with best school chum Bobby Faye, brother of Herbie Faye. During WWII he served in the USO entertaining the troupes in Europe with Marlene Dietrich, following the 82nd Airborne, with General George S.Patton.
Joey's first legitimate stage role came in 1937 when he appeared in the national touring company of 'Room Service, playing the Harpo Marx role , and his Broadway debut was in Sing Out the News in 1939. He played Banjo, in another Harpo Marx vehicle with the National Touring Company of The Man Who Came to Dinner starring Clifton Webb in 1940. On radio he was a regular writer and performer on the Kate Smith and Bert Lahr Shows.On Broadway he appeared in dozens of shows, particularly working for George Abbott in a half dozen Broadway hits, He also played himself in Lindsay and Crouse's Strip for Action' (1942), Little Me (1962) and in two shows opposite Phil Silvers, High Button Shoes (1947) and Top Banana (1951). In Man Of La Mancha (1966) he appeared as Sancho Panza.
Aside from early cinema studio shorts, Vitaphone and Soundies, Joey appeared in dozens of movies from 1948 through to the 1970s, playing the comic relief to such stars as, John Wayne, Cary Grant , Gary Cooper, and Frank Sinatra. He was the Dancing Green Grapes in The Fruit of the Loom commercials in the most successful advertising campaign in American history. The commercials lasted 15 years, also in that campaign with Joey was The Lion King's Sam Wright, Harry Goz, and academy award winner F. Murray Abraham.
In 1959 he was asked to play Estragon, in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot with good friend and Burlesque partner Jack Albertson. He credits Albertson for guiding him into receiving the Los Angeles Critics Association's , Best Actor Award. Later, he and Tom Ewell would shine in their performances as Didi and Gogo in the NYC , Sheridan Square production, 1971 directed by Alan Schneider.
Joey had the honorable distinction to have played in a Command Performance at the White House for Lyndon B. Johnson in "Guys and Dolls".
A true pioneer in early television, he had his own show , "The Joey Faye Frolics", and a game show with Mike Wallace, Guess Again. He made dozens of TV appearances including PERRY MASON, THE DETECTIVES, 77 SUNSET STRIP, CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? and THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW. Most notably he appeared in what is considered to be the most memorable episode of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW...THE COURT MARTIAL (Harry Speakup's keeper!). His final TV appearance came in BENNY HILL AROUND THE WORLD: NEW YORK in 1991.
Writer, Producer and Director Carol Bradshaw remembers Joey Faye
Joey had a long and very illustrious career, being a beacon to other performers who would always seek out his advice. He made a seamless transition in all phases of show business and through all genres of entertaining. He worked with the best and the best would ask for him including Samuel Beckett, as well as, Charles Laughton and Lupino Lane.
He made such an impact on comedy that he is known as the Inventor of Stand Up and The Boswell of Burlesque. He wrote for Ernest Truex, Walter Hampden, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason and Sally Marr as well as her son Lenny Bruce.
Joey Faye was never a household name or a star, but he was for those who knew him in showbiz, and they all knew him ! Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx and Buster Keaton , loved him. Harry Gribbon teamed up with him!
When he died he was given a Memorial Tribute on Broadway , at the site of Minsky's Old Republic Theatre, starring Tony Randall, Milton Berle, Al Lewis, Henny Youngman, Nanette Fabray, Sondra Lee, Betty Garrett, Sherry Britton, Rose Marie, Harry Goz, and many others. It was a packed house of young and old.
He was my dear friend and he will be remembered while I have breath in my body to Sing Out the News about The Boswell of Burlesque who even Fiorello La Guardia couldn't keep down!
Carol Bradshaw April 26, 2010
Some great news from fellow member Dave Thompson regarding the long awaited and much anticipated release of the entire first season of The Phil Silvers Show on DVD. Here is the official press release courtesy of www.tvshowsondvd.com :
This classic TV gem follows the fast-paced antics of Sgt. Ernie Bilko (Phil Silvers) as he attempts to swindle, bluff and flatter his platoon and his fellow comrades at the Ft. Baxter Army Post in the wilds of Kansas. The camp is supposedly run by Colonel Hall, but it's Bilko that calls the shots! Along with the other sergeants from the mess hall, Bilko is continually at war with Colonel Hall, who is desperately trying to put a stop to the gambling Bilko is running.
For the first time ever on DVD, relive the entire hilarious, Emmy award-winning first season of Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show. Phil Silvers as Sgt. Bilko is one of the most identifiable comic actor/TV personas from classic comedy television! This 5-disc collection contains an army supply of special features, including the original live pilot, audio commentaries, cast commercials, original openings, a "Lucy Show" episode featuring Phil Silvers, and all 34 gut-busting episodes which have been remastered for optimal picture quality.
Back in 2006 CBS/Paramount released a 3-disc "50th Anniversary Edition" with 18 classic episodes...but today the studio has announced that Sergeant Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - The 1st Season will come to DVD on July 27th. This new 5-disc set contains the extras described in the studio description above; note that the participants for the Audio Commentaries include George Kennedy and Allan Melvin, the episode of The Lucy Show is "Lucy and the Efficiency Expert", and the commercials include 2 from Camel and one from Pontiac (per studio-provided info). Pricing isn't available yet. Video is full screen, audio is English mono, closed captioning is included, and the run time provided is 882 minutes (timing may be subject to correction). Here's an early (small, low-res) look at the front box art for this long-awaited set, but it may not represent the final version of the cover.
Not quite the return to Primetime television we were all hoping for but fantastic news indeed for Bilko junkies who need their daily fix of life at Fort Baxter!! More news updates to follow including the UK release date.
MICKEY FREEMAN SOLDIERS ON!
I had a wonderful chat with Mickey and he asked me to tell you that "Zimmerman is alive, well and still knocking out the jokes!".
Mickey still performs his stand-up comedy routine across the United States. "I'm still enjoying myself and as long as the audiences will listen I'll be there!".
Ever the comedian, Mickey asked me to relate this joke to you.....
A man has heart attack and has open heart bypass surgery. He wakes up to find himself in the care of a nun at a Catholic Hospital.
As he is recovering, the nun asks how he is going to pay for his treatment. She asks if he has health insurance.
"No health insurance." he says.
She asks if he has money in the bank.
"No money in the bank." he says.
"Do you have a relative who could help you?" she says.
"I only have a spinster sister, who is a nun." he says.
The nun says "Your sister is not a spinster! She is married to God."
"Send the bill to my Brother-in-law." says the man!
Mickey was recently the subject of a Roast at the New York Friars Club. "It was a great night." said Mickey. "One of their biggest turn outs in years! Boy what a night!"
He was thrilled to hear about the July release of season one of The Phil Silvers Show onto DVD. "I have the three disc set they put out a few years ago. It's nice but this news about a new release is just great. I can't wait...".
Mickey asked me to pass on this message to you...
"Tell everyone I'm so touched they still think of old Zimmerman. I never imagined I would still be talking about the show so many years after we made it. Tell the fans you spoke to Mickey and that I'm the only platoon member left alive! You know, for a non-combatant unit we have a high mortality rate!"
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW - SEASON 1 DVD RELEASE
Further to the exciting news that Season 1 of The Phil Silvers Show is coming to DVD on July 27th, US-based, longtime member Dave Thompson has posted more info re the up-coming release.
The latest information from Paramount Home Video is reproduced below:
Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - Season 1 (1955)
Starring: Phil Silvers, Allan Melvin, Jimmy Little, Harry Clark, Michael Dreyfuss, Harvey Lembeck, Herbie Faye, Paul Ford, Maurice Gosfield, Karl Lukas, Billy Sands, P. Jay Sidney, George Kennedy
Director: Al De Caprio
Genre: Television, Comedy, Military/War
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Length: 850 minutes
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Misc:NTSC, Full Screen, Black & White
Sgt. Bilko - Season 1 Disc 1
Sgt. Bilko - Season 1 Disc 2
Sgt. Bilko - Season 1 Disc 3
Sgt. Bilko - Season 1 Disc 4
Sgt. Bilko - Season 1 Disc 5
This classic TV gem follows the fast-paced antics of Sgt. Ernie Bilko (Phil Silvers) as he attempts to swindle, bluff and flatter his platoon and his fellow comrades at the Ft. Baxter Army Post, in the wilds of Kansas.
The camp is supposedly run by Colonel Hall, but it's Bilko that calls the shots! Along with the other sergeants from the mess hall; Signals and Supply, Bilko is continually at war with Colonel Hall, who is desperately trying to put a stop to the gambling Bilko is running.
* Commentary by Allan Melvin
* The Lost Audition Show
* Commentary by George Kennedy
* Original Network Opening
* Lucy and the Efficiency Expert
* Camel Commercials
* 1959 Pontiac Commercial
As yet there are no details as to the disc layouts but as soon as they are released we will post them. There is also no news as to the possible UK release date.
With the exception of the inclusion of Lucy and The Efficiency Expert all the extras are taken from the previous released 50th anniversary boxed set.
Seasons Two, Three and Four are reportedly set for release dependent upon the success of the July 27th release of Season One.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS MR SILVERS!
On this day May 11th 2010, the anniversary of Phil's 99th birthday let us pause, reflect, honour and celebrate the life and times of one of the 20th Century's greatest ever comedy performers, and just as importantly pay tribute to a warm, considerate and loving father and perfect gentleman.
We all continue to admire Phil for his lifetime in comedy and his ability to bring joy and laughter to millions but let us not forget how generous Phil was both as a performer and father. In our 25 years of running the Society ~ countless interviews with Phil's friends and family stand testament to how kind and thoughful Phil was to others.
His kindness can be best summed up by his close friend Leo DeLyon at Phil's funeral in 1985:
'In the end I did get up' he recalled, 'and what I got into was how everyone had been talking about what a brilliant stage performer and comedian he was. Both those things are true. But I told them how I had worked with a large number of 'high profile' celebrities, but never with anyone who was as humane and as considerate to other people. Phil was an actor who, if things went wrong, would never ever take it out on you. I thought I would cry, which was another reason I was afraid to get up and speak. I didn't cry, although I was overcome with emotion. I miss him, when I'm reminded of these things. Like now I miss him. For want of a better word, he was a gentleman.'
And nearly 25 years on and we all miss Phil as much as ever. Indeed the world is a sadder place but at the very least, with the flick of a remote we all have the ability to bring Phil back into our lives... priceless moments to be savoured and enjoyed!
Perhaps with the imminent release of the first season of The Phil Silvers Show onto DVD some 'forward thinking' TV Exec will have the vision to bring Bilko back to primetime television, where he belongs!
Happy Birthday Phil and thanks for the memories!
Steve & Mick and all at the BPSAS
11 May 2010
DVD RELEASE UPDATE
Viacom have confirmed that Season One of The Phil Silvers Show will be released on DVD (Region 1) through the Paramount Home Entertainment Division on July 27th in the US.
Viacom have emailed me with the following "Further to our previous email - Season One of The Phil Silvers Show is scheduled to be released in July. Wth regard to the UK release, the current schedule now says September."
OK so we have to wait a couple of months but at it'll be worth the wait!
More news on any developments will follow shortly...
PRE-ORDER THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW- SEASON ONE!
Unless you've been living in a cave most Phil-fans out there will be aware by now that Paramount Home Entertainment are due to release the first season of The Phil Silvers Show onto DVD on July 27th of 2010!
A five disc set of the complete first season along with a set of extras which include commentaries by Allan Melvin and George Kennedy (taken from the 2006 50th anniversary DVD release), the original pilot plus Phil's appearance on The Lucy Show (Lucy & The Efficiency Expert) from 1966.
UK-based fans will have to wait until September (date tbc) for a Region 2 release. However, US Bilko fans along with any Bilko completists out there who wish to order a Region One box set may do so by simply clicking on the link below and completing a pre-order with AMAZON:
SGT. BILKO FINALLY GETS SEASON TREATMENT!
The greatest military con man is ready to report to duty in a season set when Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show, The First Season is released on July 27. Four years ago fans were teased with Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - 50th Anniversary Edition. Fans wanted more than a sampler of 18 of the 143 episodes. Now finally it is here. Sgt. Bilko (Phil Silvers) runs his unit like a rigged card game. He’s a hustler in uniform with more schemes than the Pentagon. The four seasons of Sgt Bilko are considered the cream of military comedy. Here is the press release from CBS DVD:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (May 20, 2010) – Television’s most beloved conman and celebrated comedic character, Sergeant Bilko, returns to finagle his way into fans’ hearts when the Emmy® award-winning series SERGEANT BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, The First Season makes its debut on DVD July 27 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.
Created by Nat Hiken (Car 54, Where Are You?), SERGEANT BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW won three consecutive Emmy® awards for Best Comedy Series and launched the character of Army Sergeant Ernie Bilko, portrayed by Emmy®-award-winning star Phil Silvers (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), into television history. Fort Baxter sets the scene for the hilarious antics of Sergeant Bilko as he attempts to swindle, bluff and flatter his platoon and fellow comrades in his hilarious attempts to get rich quick. Commanding big laughs, SERGEANT BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW co-stars Allan Melvin (All In The Family), Harvey Lembeck (Beach Party), Paul Ford (The Music Man) and Herbie Faye (The Dick Van Dyke Show).
SERGEANT BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, The First Season is a five-disc set featuring all 34 episodes from the premiere season beautifully remastered for optimal picture quality. Available for the suggested retail price of $42.99 US and $47.99 CAN, the set also includes audio commentaries, the original lost audition show, an episode of The Lucy Show featuring Phil Silvers as a guest star and cast commercials.
SERGEANT BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, The First Season five-disc set is presented in full screen with English Mono. The DVD is not rated. The total running time is approximately 14 hours and 42 minutes. The DVD disc breakdown is as follows:
* New Recruits (Commentary by Allan Melvin)
* The Empty Store
* The WAC
* The Horse
* The Boxer
* Special Feature:
o The Lost Audition Show – Rarely seen, live audition show that was never broadcast
* The Hoodlum
* Mardi Gras
* The Eating Contest
* The Centennial
* The Singing Contest
* The Twitch
* Special Features:
o Original Network Opening
o Original Cast Commercials
* The Reunion
* The Rich Kid
* The Investigation
* Kids In The Trailer
* The Revolutionary War
* The Transfer
* The Rest Cure
* Dinner At Sowici’s
* Army Memoirs
* Miss America
* The Court Martial (Commentary by George Kennedy)
* Furlough In New York
* The Big Uranium Strike
* Bilko and the Beast
* The Physical Check-Up
* The Recruiting Sergeant
* The Con Men
* Bilko on Wall Street
* Special Feature:
o Lucy and the Efficiency Expert – Classic Episode from the fifth season of The Lucy Show where Phil Silvers hilariously guest stars as an efficiency expert who takes over Lucy’s office
(Courtesy Inside Pulse Movies)
NEWS JUST IN....
Viacom have emailed us to confirm that season one of The Phil Silvers Show is due for release in the UK on September 6, 2010. It is expected to retail at £17.99 although this price may vary dependant on the retailer.
To pre-order your copy simply click on the link below....
MATCHMAKER BRACELETS tm
We are proud to announce that Tracey Silvers has launched her exciting new business venture MATCHMAKER BRACELETS tm featuring a range of bracelets and jewellery designed by Tracey herself.
"Our Company was formed in 2010 with the idea that Jewelry should say something. Jewelry with a Concept!
If you're wondering who's in the picture - that's me and my Dad, legendary Comedian Phil Silvers."
There’s a new MATCHMAKER in town. From designer Tracey Silvers, there’s a better way to meet the right person for you.
Let MatchmakerBracelets tm start the conversation.
The ONE, the ONLY, the ORIGINAL.
For more information click on the following link....
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Billie Allen this evening (June 4th 2010).
Billie of course played the part of WAC Billie on The Phil Silvers Show.
Billie is now aged 85 and lives in New York. She studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York and was a founding member of Frank Silvera Writers Workshop in New York.
She has enjoyed a distinguished career both on stage and TV and she has also enjoyed great success as a director of several stage productions including Home and The Brothers.
Billie has very kindly agreed to share her memories of her time on The Phil Silvers Show as well as her life and career which we will be posting shortly on the ROLL CALL section.
In the meantime Billie asked me to pass on this message:
"I'm so thrilled and happy that the show is still remembered so many years later. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a groundbreaking show and it helped me so much in developing as a performer and also in shaping my career as an actress and a director. We had such fun. I'm thrilled that people still remember the show. I still remember how fast and funny it all seemed...Phil and the boys and all those wonderful antics!"
SIR ALAN AYCKBOURN PAYS TRIBUTE TO PHIL...
Sir Alan Ayckbourn has become the first playwright ever to receive two of the highest accolades available in the world of theatre.
Having received the Olivier special award in 2009, last week he was presented with the Tony special award for lifetime achievement.
Accepting the 'Tony' in New York, Sir Alan said: "Coming, as it does, after last year's Olivier Award - which is the British equivalent of the Tony - it's a wonderful double. It's just thrilling. This one was more surprising because, of course, in England my plays are so widely known but here they've probably had less exposure than they have in London. But nonetheless they've had wonderful people supporting them. There's so many people to thank it's just impossible.
"I probably want to thank, most of all, Phil Silvers - the wonderful Sergeant Bilko, who actually did my first Broadway show (How The Other Half Loves in 1971 at the Royale Theatre) and he was directed by the wonderful man Gene Saks, who became a lifelong friend."
During his acceptance speech, Sir Alan also thanked Lynne Meadow of the Manhattan Theatre Club, and Elysabeth Kleinhans and Peter Tear of 59E59 Theatres for supporting his plays in New York.
Despite having stepped down as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Sir Alan shows no signs of reducing his workload.
He is about to go into rehearsals for the revival of his 1994 comedy thriller, Communicating Doors, which shows from August. After that he will go straight into rehearsals for the September world premiere of Life of Riley.
With plans already under way for a 75th play in 2011, retirement seems to be the one word that isn't in Sir Alan's vocabulary.
(Courtesy Scarborough Evening News)
Sir Alan Ayckbourn
The cast of How the Other Half Loves with Richard
Mulligan (Burt Campbell on Soap!) staring up at Phil!
JOIN THE BPSAS ON FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE...
Why not come and join the BPSAS on Facebook or take a look at some great videos featuring Phil Silvers over at our YouTube page.
Our Facebook membership currently stands at 543 and to date we have received a total of 227,300 hits over on YouTube.
So if you want to join us or simply check out the videos then click on either of the buttons below....
THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW ARRIVES DVD!
Season One of The Phil Silvers Show received its official launch in the United States today, 27th July, 2010.
The following article comes from writer Rich Heldenfels:
‘Sgt. Bilko’ commands big laughs once again
July 25, 2010 By Rich Heldenfels, Beacon Journal
A classic ’50s sitcom went through a dizzying series of name changes. But many of you will smile if I just say ”Bilko.”
Phil Silvers played Master Sgt. Ernie Bilko in one of the funniest TV comedies ever from 1955 to 1959. Bilko was, as his name implied, a con man, always scheming to avoid work and make money while stationed on a Kansas military base. Silvers, known mainly for sidekick roles in movies, brought his considerable energy — and a big wink — to his performance, not to mention rapid-fire pacing that forced all the supporting players to move fast or get run over by Silvers.
I discovered the show in reruns when I was a child and loved it; felt the same way when it reappeared from time to time on cable, and still delighted when watching a new DVD release of the first season.
Now, about that name: It had begun on CBS as You’ll Never Get Rich. But when it hit with audiences, and it was clear that Silvers was the main attraction, the main name was changed to The Phil Silvers Show (with You’ll Never Get Rich as the subtitle). Then, when the reruns aired in syndication, the show was called Sgt. Bilko — and for people like me, who mainly knew the reruns, that was the name we remembered. Since the reruns went on much longer than the original series, the new DVD doubles up, as Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show: Season One (CBS/Paramount, 34 episodes, five discs, $42.99). It’s in stores Tuesday.
The DVD has some extras, including an old audition show for the series with a slightly different cast. Also on view are the old network opening which mentions the cigarette-company sponsor, and cigarette ads with cast members. (With both extras, the DVD warns that it does not recommend smoking.)
Allan Melvin, who played Cpl. Henshaw (and died in 2008), provides audio commentary on one episode; you may also remember him as Sam the butcher on The Brady Bunch. George Kennedy, who also worked on the show, comments on another episode, and his is especially amusing. And there’s an add-on of a 1966 Lucy Show episode with Silvers as the guest star.
Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show - Season One is released in the UK on September 6, 2010.
DOUG KRENTZLIN - THE EMPTY STORE
BPSAS member and long-time Phil Silvers fan Doug Krentzlin has just posted a superb review of The Empty Store, which surely rates as the first 'true-classic' episode of The Phil Silvers Show.
Doug is a professional freelance writer, guest lecturer and actor living in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his cats, Buffy and Angel. Doug covers the classics of television, including comedies, dramas, mysteries, thrillers, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, animation and literary adaptations. He has also had articles published in the New York Post and Movie Maker Magazine.
To check out the article and to view more of Doug's writing click on the link below....
MEL BROOKS MELTDOWN!
The legendary Mel Brooks, creator of such hits as The Producers and Blazing Saddles and recent recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, was once a lowly staff writer, working for the great Sid Caesar on Caesar's Hour.
The year was 1958 and the show was up against The Phil Silvers Show for an Emmy.
The following article comes courtesy of TV Squad:
It's pretty tough to imagine that a writing staff that included Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart and Neil Simon would lose a writing award, but that was the case this year, when the writing crew of Caesar's Hour, with those aforementioned writers, lost out for the best comedy writing Emmy to the staff of The Phil Silvers Show. And Brooks was apparently incredulous about the loss himself.
In his 2004 autobiography 'Caesar's Hours,' Sid Caesar wrote, "Mel leapt onto his table and screamed, 'Coleman Jacoby and Arnie Rosen ('Phil Silvers Show' writers) won an Emmy and Mel Brooks didn't! That bullsh** writers can win the award and geniuses like us would be denied! Nietzsche was right! There is no God! There is no God!' It was pure Mel. He really did know how to punch up a scene."
BBC RADIO SCOTLAND
On Friday 3rd September, BBC Radio Scotland will be running a feature on Phil Silvers on the The Comedy Cafe programme.
The British PHIL SILVERS Appreciation Society have been invited to make a contribution to the show, hosted by Janice Forsyth.
The show will be broadcast from 1.15pm until 2.00pm. The show will also be available on BBC I Player for one week following the broadcast. The BBC will provide a copy to the society which we will then feature in due course!
IN PRAISE OF PHIL SILVERS...
This superb review celebrating the UK DVD release of The Phil Silvers Show was published on the Herald Scotland website at the same time as the Comedy Cafe feature on BBC Radio Scotland. We feel it perfectly captures why we all love and admire Phil Silvers! Thanks Teddy!
If I could choose another life, if I could switch the random confluence of genetics and geography that made me an Ulster Prod by birth and a Scottish-based Spurs fans through peer influence and economics, I reckon I wouldn’t mind being Phil Silvers.
It would be a toss-up involving him, Little Richard and Danny Blanchflower. But I suspect the man who played Sergeant Ernest Bilko would come out on top. I could put up with the hardscrabble New York upbringing and the poor health and clinical depression that blighted his later years if I knew I’d been in the best sitcom of all time.
The Phil Silvers Show has just come out out on DVD. It is more than 50 years old now but it still sings, still makes me laugh like an asthmatic donkey with his family jewels caught in a vice. It is a perfect example of comic timing, ensemble acting and, best of all, a shining example of the superiority of Jewish-American humour.
From Jack Benny to the Coen Brothers, Jewish-American humour has been a thing of wit, intelligence (we’ll overlook Mel Brooks at this point) and a joyous debunking of stupidity and nastiness, or, in Benny’s glorious wartime movie To Be Or Not To Be, Naziness.
And, yes, it also does pratfalls and double-takes and slapstick. Take the moment in the best ever episode of Phil Silvers in which a chimpanzee (Private Harry Speakup) is inducted into the army. As the recruitment line moves forward the army doctor examining the recruits’ feet is confronted with a chimp’s paws. After staring at them for long, long seconds, he turns round and cleans his glasses.
When I first saw the scene as teenager I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. I still do. It’s the comic equivalent of a bottle of champagne, a bubbly giggle that for a moment makes you forget global warming, Tory economics and Simon Cowell. I can’t think of higher praise than that.
(Article courtesy Teddy Jamieson/Scotland Herald)
MICKEY FREEMAN UPDATE
Bob Greenberg, society member and close friend of Mickey Freeman, spent some time at the weekend visiting Mickey in hospital. Although still very poorly, Mickey is making a recovery from his heart surgery.
Here is Bob's message:
"Saw Mickey today and I told him that his Brit Fans, Mick & Steve send their love as does all of the Phil Silvers App. Soc. Ditto Drew & Kathy.
He has his own room in ICU and they got him wearing "boxing gloves," obviously to keep him from p ullin' at any number of tubes and cables they got in him. I told him he looked like a telephone operator from a Screwball Comedy. Mickey, get me OXford-0814! He smiled and nodded. They had his hands tucked in under his blanket when I arrived. He told me that he was hot so I asked for a Nurse but when one didn't come and he said he was hot again, I decided to pull down his blanket and then he revealed his "boxing gloves." I said Max Baer is in Bed 3 and you're in the 3rd bout! Odds favor you, Mickey!
Obviously, our feisty Mickey has been yankin' at his tubes, Hell, I don't blame him! He did ask, "Why me?!" And then he referenced his gloves and said, "Goddammit!" I held his hand and told him you're wearing these 'cause you are a fighter and you're gonna lick this thing! He calmed down instantly.
Ann had visited him before I got there and his Sister-In-Law and her family came before I left. Ann told me that she hasn't been able to keep up with messages and calls to her so I reassured her that I would try to update as many as I could. It looks like Mickey is recovering slowly and he may be in the Hospital another month. We'll see, 'cause he's feisty, our Mickey is!"
I'm very sad to report that dear Mickey Freeman, the last surviving full-time cast member, has passed away.
It was hoped that Mickey would make a good recovery from his recent heart surgery but unfortunately it was not to be.
His loss is immeasurable. His contribution to the continuing success of The Phil Silvers Show is a testament to the his talent. Some 55 years on from the show's debut, Fielding Zimmerman remains one of the show's most memorable and popular characters.
Both Steve and myself have enjoyed numerous chats over the years with Mickey. He loved talking, liked reminiscing about the old Bilko days.
On a personal note, I began writing and calling Mickey in 1985. I still have all the cards, letters and notes he sent me and I will cherish them.
My friend Bob Greenberg, who has been so very kind in keeping us up to date with Mickey's progress, asked me to post this message to the site:
"I am SO SAD to report that our Mickey passed away this evening before 8 PM, EST. I had arrived at the Hospital and he wasn't in his bed.
I asked where was he? They told me I had to call the family. I called Ann and she broke the sad news. It happened a short time before I had arrived.
Funeral Services are tom'w, Wednesday (9/22) at 11:30 AM, Plaza Memorial Chapel, 91st & Amsterdam, NYC. Will pass on to Ann you and Steve's sympathies... Friar Mike Fine had visited Mickey late last night to give him a giant card from the Friars signed by many, many members. He was delighted and asked Mike to take off his "boxing gloves" so that he could hold the card. It made him very happy. He also wanted to order Takeout! No kidding!
When Mike asked for some Menus from the Nurse he was told that Mickey could not eat or drink anything! Mike stayed from 11:30 PM-1:30 AM. Mickey went into his last day on earth knowing that he was loved by many, many people. It's funny, on Sunday, he gave me a long look and said, "You're a good man." It touched me greatly then and now even more so. One of the few times he was ever serious with me. (And yes, my friend, you may quote me.)"
Thank you Bob for those poignant words. I'm so glad he had friends like you there with him at what must have been a frightening time for him.
On behalf of myself, Steve and all at The British PHIL SILVERS Appreciation Society, we salute you Mickey. Our deepest love and best wishes to his dear wife Ann at this very sad time.
I like to think he's somewhere up there now, mixing it up with the Bilko gang and catching up with his resident fellow comics. The sweet sound of laughter ringing out in heaven.
God Bless you Mickey!
MICKEY LEAVES 'EM LAUGHING
Mickey's friend and fellow Friar, Bob Greenberg, asked me to pass on this story about Mickey. Even though he was very ill his pursuit of the divine laugh was still in evidence.
I'll let Bob tell you the story....
"Mickey's last laugh: the night before he passed, Friar Mike Fine visited him in the Hospital with a giant Get Well Card signed by many, many Friars.
Mike was there late, 11:30 PM and Mickey was wide awake. (Mike stayed 'till 1:30 AM!)
Mickey opened the card and then demanded to see the envelope.
Mike handed it to him. Mickey shook the giant envelope upside down saying, "Where's the money?!"
MICKEY IRVING FREEMAN - (1917 - 2010)
TOM BOSLEY - (1927 - 2010)
Sad news from the US that actor Tom Bosley, known to millions across the world as Howard Cunningham in Happy Days, has died at the age of 83.
Tom appeared in literally dozens of television shows over the years. Apart from Happy Days his biggest successes came in Wait 'til Your Father Gets Home, Murder She Wrote and The Father Dowling Mysteries.
In 1981 he appeared alongside Phil Silvers and Cathy Silvers in the Happy Days episode Just A Piccalo.
He appeared in an episode of Nat Hiken's Car 54 Where Are You? in 1962 and throughout the 1960's appeared in numerous shows such as Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Bonanza, The Virginian and Get Smart.
He played the role of Howard Cunningham between 1974 and 1984. He is survived by his wife Patricia Carr Bosley and daughter Amy Bosley.
(Left) Tom Bosley and Phil Silvers in Just A Piccalo (1981)
FAREWELL MR COLEMAN JACOBY
Sad news from Hollywood that another Phil Silvers Show veteran has passed away. Writing legend Coleman Jacoby lost his fight against pancreatic cancer on 20 October 2010. With his writing partner Arnie Rosen, Mr Jacoby was responsible for penning over 50 episodes of The Phil Silvers Show and collaborating with Hiken and Rosen on perhaps the funniest half hour ever in the history of television, The Court Martial, aka The Case of Harry Speakup! Here is Williams Grimes' tribute to Coleman, courtesy of The New York Times:
Coleman Jacoby, a comedy writer during the golden age of television who, with his partner Arnie Rosen, created some of Jackie Gleason’s most memorable characters and engineered one of the great match-ups in television history, Gleason and Art Carney, died on Oct. 20 in East Meadow, N.Y. He was 95 and lived in Manhattan.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, his daughter, Catherine Loria Parker, said.
Mr. Jacoby, a former writer for Fred Allen’s radio show, also wrote more than 50 episodes for Phil Silvers’s Sergeant Bilko character. He found a foothold in the fledgling television industry in 1950 when he and Mr. Rosen were hired to write sketches for Gleason, the new host of the DuMont network’s “Cavalcade of Stars.”
The partners created characters that became a permanent part of Gleason’s act over the years: “that devil-may-care playboy” Reginald Van Gleason III, the Poor Soul, Joe the Bartender, Charlie Bratton the Loud Mouth, the nebbishy Fenwick Babbitt and the stupendously inept Rudy the Repairman. Their first Reggie Van Gleason sketch called for Gleason to appear as the Man of Compunction, a swipe at Calvert whiskey’s Man of Distinction ads, in a photo session for a magazine liquor advertisement. The advertising agency’s photographer, trying to demonstrate the correct way to quaff a drink insouciantly — “I want you to toss a drink off with the élan of a polo player, heir to millions,” he tells Gleason — unwittingly initiates a tit-for-tat boozefest that ends in chaos.
For the role of the photographer the two men suggested Art Carney, a comic and impressionist they had worked with on Robert Q. Lewis’s CBS radio show. “We got to know Art pretty well when Arnie Rosen and I were working at CBS,” Mr. Jacoby told Michael Seth Starr, the author of “Art Carney: A Biography” (1997). “He was brilliant, and we remembered him. We brought him in cold and pushed him down Gleason’s throat.”
The two men clicked, and Carney became a regular, with Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Rosen writing him into as many sketches as they could, creating the characters Sedgwick Van Gleason (Reggie’s father) and the milquetoast Clem Finch (victim of the Loudmouth).
Gleason and Carney went on to television immortality in the 1950s comedy “The Honeymooners,” Gleason as the bus driver Ralph Kramden and Carney as his friend and neighbor Ed Norton.
In 1956 Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Rosen were hired to write for You’ll Never Get Rich, Nat Hiken’s service comedy starring Phil Silvers as Sergeant Ernie Bilko. Over the next four years they wrote dozens of episodes for the series, which was later known as Sgt. Bilko.
Coleman Jacoby was born on April 16, 1915, in Pittsburgh. After his mother died and his father abandoned the family, he was placed at the age of 7 in the Jewish Home for Babies and Children.
He studied art at a settlement house near Pittsburgh and at 16 left for New York, where he painted murals on the walls of nightclubs and began writing jokes for stand-up comedians and Broadway press agents angling to get their clients, via a joke, into Walter Winchell’s column.
At the suggestion of the gossip columnist Earl Wilson, he changed his last name to Jacoby, which Wilson said had a pleasing ring to it. Mr. Jacoby broke into radio by writing jokes for Bob Hope and went on to write for Allen. In 1940 he married Violeta Velero, one half of the Velero Sisters, who appeared with Latin bands. The marriage ended in divorce. He later married the dancer Gaby Monet, who died in 2009. He is survived by his daughter, of Mineola, N.Y.
After writing for “Your Show of Shows,” featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, he teamed up with Mr. Rosen. Following their work with Silvers, the partners wrote for “The Garry Moore Show” for five years. They split up when Mr. Rosen left for California in 1967 to produce “The Carol Burnett Show.”
With his second wife, Mr. Jacoby formed Jacoby-Monet Productions, which made television specials, many of them for children. In his later years he worked on a memoir, unfinished at his death, titled “Nobody Likes an Arrogant Orphan.”
In it, Mr. Jacoby described working with Jackie Gleason as a painful learning experience. “From the very first show he is a problem,” he wrote. “We know he is a talent and a boon to our efforts but it is a question of inhuman endurance. As I once said to Arnie, ‘We have a tiger by the tail — a fat, funny tiger.’ ”
The Society would like to take this opportunity to send condolences to Mr Jacoby's family and friends during this sad time.
Thank you Coleman. You have left us all a rich legacy and some wonderful, funny and uplifting memories.
MORE ALAN AYCKBOURN MEMOIRS
Another fascinating memoir from Sir Alan Ayckbourn relating to Phil's performance in his only semi-serious piece of stage work How The Other Half Loves. Although a particular sad piece it perfectly demonstrates Phil's strength and humour when faced with such adversity. Phil was without question a fighter, and the last line where he quips the audience had to prompt him shows even during ill health Phil lost none of his wit, timing and humour! Over to Mr Ayckbourn!
There’s another sad but blissful story in Conversations with Ayckbourn, Ian Watson’s book of interviews with the playwright, in which he talks about an American tour of How the Other Half Loves that starred the great American TV and stage comedy actor Phil Silvers. Ayckbourn picks up the story: “He had disappeared for a bit: he hadn’t been in the public eye. Sergeant Bilko he was still well loved for, and he’d got one or two Broadway successes like Top Banana under his belt, but that was some time ago; and nobody knew much about him. We found out about Phil that he was (a) an extremely nervous man and (b) an extremely nice man. But he’d some form of nervous breakdown; he’d had - what can I call it? - a relapse, anyway. His marriage had broken up and it had upset him enormously… Anyway, he saw in this a chance - and I think everyone saw in it a chance for him - to reconsitute himself. But it was a bit therapeutic, like all these occasions.”
But there was a problem: “First of all, what had gone was his memory; he couldn’t remember any of the lines.” An assistant director was deputised to work with him on them; it turned out to be Tom Erhardt, now a literary agent who has been long resident in London, but then assisting the director Gene Saks. On the first date of the tour in Palm Beach, the stage did not allow for a prompter. As Ayckbourn goes on to detail, “It was enormously wide, with an enormous forestage, and a big, billowing curtain like a maternity dress that came round the front. There was nowhere you could have a prompter without a loudhailer, because the prompt corner was miles from the centre of the stage.”
The producer had an idea: just cut a hole in the forestage, and have a trap, like an opera box, in which a prompter could sit. Since the production had made no provision for a prompter, the job fell on Tom Erhardt. And when he went down this hole, he was down there from the beginning to the end, because there was no way he could get out. Well, Tom is blond and fair and thinning, and when they put the lights on, you had this bright, shining head in the middle of the forestage…. So Tom was equipped with a black beret, which made him look not unlike a Provisional IRA man, crouching in a slit trench.”
During the second act, he goes on, “The big maternity dress draws round again in the scene change before the last scene; and it’s a thin dress, it’s not a thick curtain. And you can hear through the curtain Phil’s voice shouting down to Tom in his hole: ‘I need you now, baby!’ Which, of course, comes ringing into the auditorium…. So, the curtains drew and Phil starts the last scene, and certainly cues are coming thick and fast and people are covering; and then he gets to one line, which was one of those lines that nobody could help him on. He says, ‘Well, I…. I…. I…. think, Bob, that… I think, Bob, that…. that…..’ And Tom, the prompter, is not a prompter. There’s a great art in prompting, to give the right key word and to give it quickly and cleanly. And Tom has a very loud voice, and a very slow voice. So Tom gives him: ‘Possibly’. Phil, by then, you can see, has got buzzing noises in his ears and he couldn’t hear if you actually screamed it at him. He said, ‘I think… I think, Bob… I… I…’ And Tom’s voice comes again, equally loudly: ‘Possibly!’ ‘Just that… I think…. I think, Bob…er… you know, Bob….’ And a man, right at the back of the theatre, shouts, ‘Possibly!’ Gene says, ‘Oh my God, the audience are prompting him now!’”
After the show, Silvers is distraught: “The humiliation. I’m a man who made millions laugh on Bilko.” They try to comfort him: “It’s all right, Phil ,don’t worry, we all have bad nights.” He replies, “Bad nights! I’ve been prompted by the audience!”
(Courtesy Sir Alan Ayckbourn/Mark Shenton @ The Stage)
We'd like to take this opportunity to wish all Phil Silvers fans everywhere a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Your continued support is truly appreciated by both the Society and most importantly by Phil's family.
It has been another positive year for the Society. We've added some excellent articles and features to the website and visitor figures to the site have been phenomenal. Our Facebook membership now stands at over 600 and our YouTube page has received in excess of 287,000 hits. All of which serves to illustrate how brightly Phil's star still burns!
It was also a year of highs and lows. 2010 marked the DVD release of Season One of The Phil Silvers Show. The year was also marked by the passing of our dear friend and sole full-time platoon member, Mickey Freeman.
2011 will of course mark the 100th anniversary of Phil's birth. We are looking to mark the occassion with an event in May of next year.
Thanks once again to all our friends, supporters, contributors, occassional visitors and Phil-fans the world over!
CAROL BRADSHAW REMEMBERS JOE E ROSS
Carol Bradshaw is a distinguished and well respected writer, actor and producer and a positive fountain of knowledge on the life and work of Joey Faye. An occassional contributor to this site Carol has very kindly agreed to share some of her memories of meeting everyone's favourite 'Lucretia Borgia of Fort Baxter' Mess Sgt Rupert Ritzik! Rupert was of course portrayed by the eternally lovable Joe E Ross!
"I was working while going to evening classes at Los Angeles City College. I held a job during the day and then I would do some bar tending at night a few days a week while living in Hollywood. Because of my busy schedule, there would be times I hadn't eaten dinner until after midnight!
I would go into Canters Deli on Fairfax in the center of Hollywood, and there would be a plethora of old and very young comedians and actors. Sometimes Joe would come in with his shirt wide open and two women on either arm and other times he would be in there alone.
He was quite the display. But a man of sweet character. He seemed to be there when I was there and so he would acknowledge me or I would say something to him. Finally, I was invited over to his table and he would tell me some stories about his time in Burlesque. He would also sing minstrel and vaudeville songs to me, the way that George Burns would on The Johnny Carson Show.
He also talked about being around a lot of the gangsters in his day, so aside from telling stories of the vaudevillians, he would talk to me about the intrigues of the underworld in Chicago , Miami, and NYC.
He had worked in various phases of showbiz especially night clubs around the nation. I don't think that he could read or write very well, he didn't have a lot of formal school training.
For someone that seemed to be raised by the seat of his pants, he came into quite a bit of success in his life. He had a mind like a steel trap, his power of recall was excellent. Much, much better than mine, these days!"
Carol Bradshaw January 2011
Joe E Ross carved a hugely successful career in Hollywood particularly on the nightclub circuit and scaled even greater heights when he was cast as Patrol Officer Gunther Toody in Nat Hiken's next television masterpiece Car 54 Where Are You?. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Carol for sharing her cherished memories of Joe with us.
HERE WE ARE, STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND
BPSAS member James Mulholland relates this wonderful story about Phil:
"The Drama Critic sketch (from "Summer In New York") reminded me of a story that was told to me by comedian Alan King (who really acted this out to the hilt).
In the late 30's Phil Silvers and Rags Ragland were working together in Burlesque in New York. Every night they opened the show with a shipwreck blackout. In it, Phil, Rags, and a buxom blonde played castaways and Phil had the opening line: 'Well, here we are stranded on a desert island!'.
Night after night he repeated that line - 'Well, here we are...' Meanwhile, a block away the great Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans had opened in Hamlet to sold-out crowds. Phil, a serious fan of serious drama, managed to wangle a ticket for a Wednesday matinee.
For three hours he was spellbound by Evans' performance as the Bard's moody Dane. He couldn't get over the passion and power of the acclaimed tragedian's acting. Walking to the Burlesque theatre after the play, an emotionally-drained Silvers was convinced he was wasting his life at Minsky's.
Backstage he collared anyone he could to tell them about what he had just witnessed. "You should've been there - his emotional range, his depth of characterization...".
The Burlesque show was just about to start and Phil, in costume, was still going on about Maurice Evans. "Okay, Okay," said Rags. "But we got a show to do too!" .
The curtains parted on the shipwreck blackout. Phil looked out at the audience and took a pause that seemed like an eternity. Then instead of saying the trite opening line, Phil raised his fists and cried out in anguish, "Maroooooooned...!" Rags fell down laughing and couldn't go on with the sketch!".
OBITUARY: JOHN STRAUSS - (1921 - 2011)
John Strauss, a composer and sound editor whose work includes theme songs from early TV shows and the film and soundtrack for Oscar best picture winner Amadeus, has died. He was 90.
Strauss passed away Monday night at a nursing home in West Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, said his son, Larry Strauss.
In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Strauss won an Emmy Award for sound editing (1977's The Amazing Howard Hughes) and a Grammy for best classical album of 1984 (Milos Forman's Amadeus).
Along with producing the soundtrack album for the eight-time Oscar winner, Strauss served as the film's music coordinator and is briefly seen onscreen as a conductor. He also wrote the brief composition that the Count shows to Mozart, who mocks the effort.
Strauss coordinated the music for three other Forman films: Hair (1979), Ragtime (1981) and Valmont (1989), for which he also composed part of the score.
However, Strauss' most widely recognizable composition is probably the theme from Car 54, Where Are You?, the 1961-63 NBC series that starred Joe. E. Ross and Fred Gwynne. He also scored The Phil Silvers Show and the Elaine May film Mikey and Nicky (1976) and served as music editor on NBC series L.A. Law.
The New York native worked as sound editor on early Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971) and Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex ... (1972). He did the original Heartbreak Kid and Slaughterhouse-Five, both in 1972, and was music supervisor on The Blues Brothers (1980), Impromptu (1991) and The Pirates of Penzance (1983).
His theater credits include a song from the 1960s Broadway musical Pickwick.
Strauss was married to actress Charlotte Rae, for whom he wrote arrangements for her 1955 album Songs I Taught My Mother and with whom he collaborated on cabaret shows. They divorced in 1975. Strauss then became life partners with artist Lionel Friedman, who died in 2003.
Strauss served in France and North Africa during World War II, studied under Paul Hindemith at the Yale School of Music and taught briefly at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He composed two ballets for the Joffrey Ballet, and his opera, The Accused, was performed by soprano Patricia Neway and televised on the NBC Opera series of the 1950s.
In addition to Rae, with whom he remained friends, and Larry, Strauss is survived by his daughter-in-law Eleanor and grandchildren Carly, Nora and Sean.
Courtesy of Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter
Pictures & Media (Top to Bottom)
The Phil Silvers Show Theme
Car 54, Where Are You? Theme
KATE AND WILLIAM - NANCEY SILVERS
The screenplay for the upcoming US made-for-television film William And Kate, which chronicles the love affair between heir-apparent Prince William and Kate Middleton, was written by Nancey Silvers, daughter of comedian Phil Silvers.
The film features Nico Evers-Swindell as Prince William, Camilla Luddington as Kate Middleton and Chariots Of Fire star Ben Cross as Prince Charles. The cast and crew were seen filming a boat race scene near St Andrews University, where the couple first met.
Nancey has an impressive list of writing credits to her name including The Survivors Club (2004), Girl, Positive (2007), Sunday At Tiffany's (2010) and Miracle In Manhattan (2010) starring Doris Roberts of Everbody Loves Raymond fame.
Nancey is currently working on a new project for the Lifetime Movie Network.
Car 54, Where Are You?
CAR 54Where Are You? The Complete First Season
“One of the funniest TV shows of all time.”–Leonard Maltin
“CAR 54 was hilarious... one of the finest television series ever produced.”–Robert Klein
"Made a major impact on TV history."–Joe Corey, Inside Pulse
“CAR 54 creator Nat Hiken was acomic genius.”–Carol Burnett
Complete First Season of TV Show to Debut on DVDApril 12, 2011 from Shanachie Entertainment
Comedy Series from the Great Nat Hiken, Released to Celebrate its 50th Anniversary, includes Bonus Extra of Cast Member Round Table Hosted by Robert Klein
January 3, 2011 - Many critics and comedians believe that CAR 54 Where Are You? is one of the best comedy series ever to appear on television. Leonard Maltin calls it “one of the funniest TV shows of all time.” Carol Burnett, who worked with the show’s creator Nat Hiken, called him a comedy genius.
In Carl Reiner’s words,“All comedy writersof Hiken’s day agreed that he had no peer.” Long out of circulation, this brilliant show can now be discoveredby new generations who will have a chance to view it for the first time. In celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary,Shanachie Entertainment will be releasing all 30 episodes of the first season as a 4-disc DVD package on April12, 2011 (SRP: $39.98).
This is the first time the shows have ever been on DVD, now newly remastered from the only known set of 35 mm fine grain prints.Specifically shot as a bonus extra for this release is a brand-new free-wheeling round table conversation betweenBronx-raised comedian Robert Klein and two of the regular cast members --Charlotte Rae, who played Sylvia Schnauser, and Hank Garrett, who played Officer Ed Nicholson, one of the cops of the 53rd precinct.
Rae and Garrett share stories, anecdotes and memories with Klein (a fan of Hiken’s work) that shed light on what went on behind the scenes. Nat Hiken was already famous for his highly acclaimed Sgt. Bilko show, and when the opportunity to do another TV series came up, he threw himself into the task – writing, producing, casting and directing. Drawing on his 25 years of writing experience for top comedy shows on radio and television (Fred Allen, Milton Berle, Martha Raye), the result is one of his greatest creative achievements -- a comedy rich with New York humor and filled with off-beatcharacters in scripts that were polished jewels of comedy.
The show is set in the Bronx’s 53rd precinct, where the cops depicted are all great comedic characters, as are the residents of the neighborhood they patrol. The central figures of the show are the Mutt & Jeff squad car team of Toody and Muldoon, played by Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynne. In real life the actors were also an odd couple for the ages – the crudest burlesque comedian from the lower rungs of show business paired with a trained Harvard-educated actor.
Muldoon plays the long-suffering voice of reason who invariably reins in his short stocky partner’sdimwitted schemes and patiently listens to his hilariously inane prattle.The ensemble of supporting actors was perfectly cast.With a naturally shrill voice, Beatrice Pons was ideal as Toody’sdomineering shrew of a wife. Circus veteran Al Lewis, blessed with a face that could find a contortion to accompany every passing thought, was the irascible Officer Leo Schnauser. Charlotte Rae, who stole the show with her pitchperfect comic performance in an early episode, was written in by Hiken as Schnauser’s moody, hot-tempered wife and became one of the most memorable characters on the show.
To fill out each episode, Hiken drew on a wealth of New York talent – seasoned film and TV veterans, borscht beltcomedians and some of the brightest young talent from the Broadway stage. Regulars Paul Reed, Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were on the set during the day and appearing in Broadway shows in the evening. Episodes in the first season featured show business pros Wally Cox, Jan Murray, Molly Picon, Maureen Stapleton, Jake La Motta and many more.
(With thanks to Sherwin Dunner of Shanachie Entertainment for the press release)
DVD cover for Car 54 Where Are You?, Nat Hiken, Gunther Toody and Francis Muldoon, Fred Gwynne and Joe E Ross publicity shot
STACKED SUSIE SAYS HELLO....
I recently had the great pleasure of making contact with actress Julie Newmar. Julie has enjoyed a lengthy career as a dancer, actress, singer and writer. Her most famous role being that of the deliciously purrfect Catwoman in the hugely successful Batman television series from the 1960's.
One of Julie's first television appearances was in a 1957 episode of The Phil Silvers Show called The Big Scandal, in which she played the voluptuous maid known as Stacked Susie.
She remembers fondly her appearance on the show and working with Phil. "My background was in musical theatre. It was my first love and my training ground." said Julie. "Very early in my career, I appeared on The Phil Silvers Show. People forget that Phil was in Top Banana on Broadway. He was the best at that type of performing. It's physically very demanding and it really trains you for television comedy."
"I adored working with Phil Silvers, fresh from my first Broadway show. I knew nothing at all about comedy and he was so generous to me, teaching me so much".
PHIL SILVERS -MAY 11, 1911 - 2011
Wednesday May 11th, 2011 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of our the greatest comic actor of the 20th century.....Phil Silvers.
Phil's legacy to the world is the joyous laughter he has brought (and will continue to do so) into the lives of millions of people the world over. Countless films, television shows, including the landmark The Phil Silvers Show, along with 5 smash-hit Broadway musicals more than bear testament to a man who was considered by critics, the public and his fellow comedians as one of the true greats.
Today his legacy lives on not only the incredible body of work he left behind but also in the hearts and minds of all those who remember him, along with the numerous web-sites, internet media sites, books and magazines that continue to revere him.
In order to mark this momentous occasion we will be hosting a live 2 hour webchat on Wednesday May 11, 2011 between the hours of 8.00pm and 10.00pm BST (British Summer Time). Hopefully this will allow fellow Phil-fans from various parts of the world to take part in this momentous occasion.
You will be able to chat to fans the world over in real-time about Phil Silvers....if u don't wish to chat you can simply leave a message about Phil. The event is taking place with the blessing of Phil's family, some of whom will be taking part in the event.
If you wish to take part in this momentous celebration of the life and work of Phil Silvers you simply need to contact me at the address below asap:
HAPPY 100th PHIL!
It was 100 years ago to this day on, May 11, 1911, that Phil Silvers was born at 417 Pennsylvannia Avenue in the Brownsville district of Brooklyn, New York to Saul and Sarah Silvers.
From his humble beginings no-one could've predicted that Phil would become one of the world's most revered and beloved entertainers.
From his early days of singing in theatres and movie houses to his discovery by Gus Edwards at Coney Island to Vaudeville, Burlesque, Broadway, USO tours, Radio, Hollywood, Television and the overwhelming worldwide acclaim he achieved through his portrayal of Ernie Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show. he gave the world the precious gift of laughter.
To watch Phil at work is to watch a master. His old friend Red Buttons once said "If Phil were a painting he'd be hanging in The Louvre!."
Those long years treading the boards taught Phil the intricacies of performing. It was a gift that he never, ever took for granted. In his later years he would often say, "Comedy is no laughing matter...it's hard work!."
And when it came to making people laugh, nobody worked harder than Phil. The testament to his talent resides in the body of work he left behind. He never gave anything less than his all and it shows in every frame of footage you'll ever see.
Think also too of all those lucky audiences who got to see him perform live in the staggering body of Broadway hits - Yokel Boy, High Button Shoes, Top Banana, Do Re Mi, How The Other Half Loves and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum - those performances are lost to the majority of us and we can only re-ignite them through the memories and recollections of others.
Phil passed away in 1985 and for his family, his friends and his fans it was too soon. It was almost as if he was following the old showbiz addage of "Always leave 'em wanting more!".
Today Phil lives on through his work and most importantly through his family. His daughters and his grandchildren continue to champion his legacy.
Daughter Candace asked me to pass on this message....
"My Father was and is still my hero. He may have passed many, many years ago but he is still my greatest teacher. His wisdom and talent created and inspired so much laughter on this earth. I thank all of his fans for remembering him and inspiring others to remember his genius so many years later.
Phil's beloved daughters
(Clockwise - Tracey (in white), Cathy, Laury, Candace & Nancey)
BREAKING NEWS! UNPRODUCED BILKO SPECIAL
News just in courtesy of Jonathan M Smith and Kliph Nesteroff. After the demise of The Phil Silvers Show in 1959 it seems Phil was given the opportunity to reprise the role of Ernie Bilko for an early 60's musical special. Sadly he turned the project down, one presumes to concentrate on his Broadway career and although the actual dates are sketchy Phil was more than likely fully immersed in headlining Do Re Mi. Over to Jonathan with all the info!
Hi Steve and Mick. Just saw an interview with Milton Delugg, who was everywhere on TV in the 50s. He mentions he and Bob Hilliard wrote a Bilko musical
Here is the page and section (about a third down):
Kliph Nesteroff: Two other actors I have listed as being on Seven at Eleven, two great comic talents, Herbie Faye - and Sid Gould.
Milton Delugg: Herbie Faye and Sid Gould. They were both very good. They were not quite strong enough to have their own shows and both funny.
Kliph Nesteroff: Herbie Faye you eventually saw all the time on The Phil Silvers Show - Sgt Bilko.
Milton Delugg: Yeah. That's right. You know, Bob Hilliard and I... Bob was a lyric writer. We wrote a show, a musical, called Bilko.
Kliph Nesteroff: Oh, really?
Milton Delugg: Yeah, but Phil Silvers didn't want to do it. He said he had five or six years of playing that soldier character on television and he was looking for a new kind of part.
Kliph Nesteroff: Wow, I had no idea.
Milton Delugg: Early sixties.
Kliph Nesteroff: You just had the idea or you went ahead and wrote the production?
Milton Delugg: We wrote it and there were some pretty good songs in it. Bobby was a remarkable lyric writer. Very good. Nothing ever happened with any of it. Once Phil turned it down, you're not going to get someone else to play that part.
Kliph Nesteroff: Phil Silvers was great in Top Banana.
Milton Delugg: Oh, he was wonderful. Was there a show called High Button Shoes? I think so. It was a musical - not on TV. Jules Stein, Sammy Cahn... and there was a hit song in it.
Kliph Nesteroff: Phil Silvers was a powerhouse. He could steal any scene.
Milton Delugg: And he did (laughs)."
Courtesy Kliph Nesteroff and Jonathan M Smith
Sad news that Leonard Stern passed away on June 8th, aged 87, following a lengthy illness. Leonard was particularly helpful to the BPSAS in it's fledgling years and gave us some wonderful interviews and great personal insights into his time on The Phil Silvers Show as both scriptwriter and show-runner.
We are currently preparing an in-depth tribute to Leonard, in the meantime the following article comes courtesy of the BBC newsdesk.
"US writer and producer Leonard Stern, who was behind hit shows including Get Smart and The Honeymooners, has died aged 87.
The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner died of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, his spokesman said.
Stern found early success in the 1950s writing for sitcoms like The Phil Silvers Show.
He also created and directed 1970s crime drama McMillan and Wife starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.
Stern penned two Abbott & Costello films before his stint on The Jackie Gleason Show, where he wrote The Honeymooners sketches - which later spawned a TV series.
During his career, he worked as a writer and producer on more than 20 sitcoms.
In the 1960s, he created the sitcoms I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, fugitive satire Run Buddy Run, and He & She, starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss as two young love birds.
The writer's film credits include screenplays for 1952 film The Jazz Singer, 1979's Just You and Me, Kid starring George Burns and Brooke Shields - which he also directed - and 1985 film Target starring Gene Hackman.
Aside from his Hollywood career, Stern also co-created a popular word game, Mad Libs - in which people fill in blank spaces with random nouns, adjectives and adverbs to form funny stories.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, actress Gloria Stroock - who played Hudson's secretary on McMillan & Wife - and two children."
Happy Anniversary Sgt. Bilko!
The Phil Silvers Show made its official series debut on the CBS Television Network on September 20th 1955. William Paley, who was the head of CBS Television at the time, had seen the original pilot for the show and immediately commissioned a series saying "This is money in the bank. Take it off the rack and go ahead!"
Today, September 20 2011, marks the 56th anniversary of the broadcast of season opener New Recruits on CBS Television.
For a total of 143 episodes (including the original pilot) and a 1-hour live special (Keep In Step) - spanning four glorious seasons, The Phil Silvers Show remains the greatest sitcom in television history. Its influence is still felt within the industry today and the show has achieved a well-deserved cult status the world over - lauded for the central performance of Phil Silvers, the sheer comic genius of Nat Hiken's writing, a superb array of supporting characters and its groundbreaking use of a multi-cultural cast.
Merry Christmas from the BPSAS!
Once again the Christmas season is upon us! We'd sincerely like to thank Phil-fans everywhere for their support during 2011 .
Sadly this year saw the passing of the following Bilko personnel: Composer John Strauss, writer Leonard Stern and actor Dan Frazer. Our thoughts are with their families at this time. May 11, 2011 saw the 100th anniversary of Phil's birth and several of our members took part in the Phil Silvers on-line web-chat along with Phil's daughter Cathy. The year also saw the 43rd anniversary of the passing of Nat Hiken.
We approach 2012 with the hope that CBS will finally agree to release the remaining 3 seasons of The Phil Silvers Show onto DVD. We've now had over 73,000 hits on the website, our Facebook group membership continues to flourish and our YouTube channel has now received over 450,000 hits, once again proving that Phil's legacy lives on.
Thank you once again for your loyal support and it only remains for us to say - from Steve, myself and Phil's family we wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Steve & Mick
Car 54 Where Are You? Season 2
Season 2 of Nat Hiken's superlative comedy series, Car 54, Where Are You? is to be released on DVD in the United States, courtesy of Shanachie Entertainment and eOne Entertainment on April 10th, 2012. The 4-disc DVD set contains the final 30 episodes of the show starring Fred Gwynne, Joe E. Ross, Paul Reed, Al Lewis and Charlotte Rae.
The release, which coincides with the show's 50th anniversary, and will once again feature episodes remastered from the original 35mm film prints. The episodes this time are to be featured in their original broadcast order (the first season set of episodes ran in order of popularity of each installment).
No real word on any extras as yet, although Shanachie have confirmed that the set will feature a ten minute stand-up comedy routine by series star Joe E. Ross. The set will retail at $39.98.
A UK release date has yet to be announced.
The DVD cover artwork once again features a colour shot of stars Fred Gwynne and Joe E Ross. Renowned artist Drew Friedman was commissioned to provide an illustration for the back cover artwork.
DVD Cover artwork