The New Phil Silvers Show



In September 1963 Phil Silvers returned to the series comedy format with The New Phil Silvers Show.  The show was owned and produced by Phil's Gladasaya Productions and sponsored by the General Foods Corporation.


The series saw Phil cast in the role of  factory foreman Harry Grafton, who worked at Osborne Industries. Harry was, in essence, Bilko in civvies....he was a loveable rogue who ran scams and money-making schemes.


Producer/Director Rod Amateau, who had produced The George Burns Show, The Bob Cummings Show and The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis helped to assemble a great cast and crew including Stafford Repp (Batman's Chief O'Hara), Jim Renella and Phil's friend and mentor Herbie Faye.


The scripts were polished, well-written, energetic and full of the twists and flourishes that had served the writers so well on Bilko. Phil Sharp, who had previously written for The Phil Silvers Show, was one of many of the talented writers who worked on the show.


Sadly the audiences didn't take to Harry Grafton in the way that they had done with Ernie Bilko. Whereas Ernie Bilko was the underdog soldier simply trying to make an extra dollar, the public felt that Harry Grafton had a good, well-paid job and his scams had no place on the factory floor.  In an attempt to revive the show Harry was placed in a family environment. Actress Elena Verdugo was cast as Harry's sister and Harry became a father-figure to her children (played by Ronnie Dapo & Sandy Descher). The emphasis was switched from the factory to Harry's home-life.


The final eight episodes are well-written and superbly acted. They bear more than a passing resemblance to latter-day shows such as Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond, but the changes came too late and the show did not survive beyond its first season.


The show was broadcast in the US in 1963/64 and in the UK on the ITV network in 1964. It has never been repeated and to date there are no plans for a DVD release.


The New Phil Silvers Show - Cast List:


Phil Silvers as Harry Grafton (30 episodes)

Herbie Faye as Waluska (24 episodes)

Stafford Repp as Mr.Brink (17 episodes)

Jim Shane as Lester (8 episodes)

Pat Renella as Roxy (8 episodes)

Elena Verdugo as Audrey (8 episodes)

Sandy Descher as Susan (8 episodes)

Ronnie Dapo as Andy (8 episodes)

Buddy Lester as Nick (7 episodes)

Douglas Dumbrille as Mr.Osborne (6 episodes)

Robert Williams as Bob (5 episodes)

Steve Mitchell as Starkey (4 episodes)

Eric Morris as Stanley (3 episodes)

Henry Scott as Scarpitta (2 episodes)

Carole Cook as Gertrude (2 episodes)

Bert Mustin as Magruder (2 episodes)


Series Produced by Rod Amateau

Associate Producer Norman Henry

Directed by Rod Amateau (and various)

Music by Harry Geller

Cinematography James Van Trees

Sponsored by General Foods


A Gladasaya Production


Episode Guide:


Episode 1 (Original Air Date - 28/9/1963)

Man It's Like Progress

Harry Grafton's department is thrown into chaos with the introudction of a new  computer.


Episode 2 (Original Air Date - 5/10/1963)

The Great Forklift Contest

Harry rigs the betting in a Forklifting contest.


Episode 3 (Original Air Date - 12/10/1963)

Birthday Boy

Harry plans his own 'surprise' birthday party with unexpected results.


Episode 4 (Original Air Date - 19/10/1963)

The Tortoise and The Harry

Harry organises turtle races at the factory with hilarious consequences.


Episode 5 (Original Air Date - 26/10/1963)

Harry Today, Gone Tomorrow

Mr Brink tries to get Harry transfered to another factory.


Episode 6 (Original Air Date - 2/11/1963)

The Little Old Gluemaker, Me!

The plant janitor invents a new type of glue and Harry is convinced he can make millions by selling the secret formula.


Episode 7 (Original Air Date - 9/11/1963)

Triple Indemnity

Harry comes up with an insurance scheme that protects against lost paychecks.


Episode 8 (Original Air Date 16/11/1963)

A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Coffee Break!

When Brink is asked how the factory can save money he suggests closing Harry's department.


Episode 9 (Original Air Date - 30/11/1963)

Harry Who?

When Harry goes on vacation his replacement does such a good job that Harry worries about getting his job back.


Episode 10 (Original Air Date - 7/12/1963)

Las Vegas Was My Mother's Maiden Name

Harry gets special treatment at a Las Vegas hotel when he is mistaken for the celebrity....Phil Silvers!


Episode 11 (Original Air Date - 14/12/1963)

The Son Of Pygmailion

The lovely-but-dull Miss Fritterman wants Harry to turn her into his 'Fair Lady'.


Episode 12 (Original Air Date 21/12/1963)

Have I Got A Boy For You

Waluska falls for a girl at the factory but she's not interested.


Episode 13 (Original Air Date - 28/12/1963)

Who Do Voodoo? Harry Do!

Harry falls for a society girl in Trinidad. In order to change her disinterest he uses some of his 'old black magic'.


Episode 14 (Original Air Date - 4/1/1964)

Stop The Factory, I Want To Get Off

Harry pulls out all the stops to save a wedding.


Episode 15 (Original Air Date - 11/1/1964)

Beauty And The Least

Harry comes up with a plan to transform a plain girl into a beauty queen.


Episode 16 (Original Air Date - 18/1/1963)

75 & 1/2 Trombones

Harry runs a raffle. When one of his men wins he's overjoyed until he learns that his prize is an army tank....and it's in Okinawa.


Episode 17 (Original Air Date - 25/1/1964)

My Son, The Governor

To raise cash, Harry manufactures a batch of TV tables. He's soon heading for trouble when some of the tables wind up in a shipment of parts destined for the army.


Episode 18 (Original Air Date - 1/2/1964)

Leave It To Harry

Harry's sister goes on vacation, leaving Harry to look after her kids.


Episode 19 (Original Air Date - 8/2/1964)

Smile Harry, You're On Candid Camera

When out shopping Harry spies Allen Funt. He becomes determined not to get caught out acting silly on camera.


Episode 20 (Original Air Date - 15/2/1964)

Pay The Two Dollars

Harry tries to find a way to avoid paying a parking ticket.


Episode 21 (Original Air Date - 22/2/1964)

Harry, The Good Neighbor

When Harry overhears his newly-wed neighbors arguing he decides to step in and save the day. Things don't quite go to plan.


Episode 22 (Original Air Date - 29/2/1964)

Cyrano De Grafton

Harry's friend Lester needs help in wooing the girl of his dreams, but Harry is also infatuated with the same girl.


Episode 23 (Original Air Date - 7/3/1964)

Take Her, She's Tall

Harry tries to help his shy nephew win a date with a girl.


Episode 24 (Original Air Date - 14/3/1964)

Will The Real Harry Grafton Please Stand Up?

Harry goes all-out to win the 'Foreman Of The Year' contest.


Episode 25 (Original Air date - 21/3/1964)

Auntie Up

When Harry hires a sweet old lady as a housekeeper she turns the house into a gambling den.


Episode 26 (Original Air Date - 28/3/1964)

Grafton's The Name, Football's My Game

Harry turns his hand to 'coaching' the local football team.


Episode 27 (Original Air Date - 4/4/1964)

Keep Cool

Harry and some of his workmates get locked in a freezer. 


Episode 28 (Original Air Date - 11/4/1964)

Vanity, Thy Name Is Harry

 Harry tries to defy the ageing process by thinking 'young' and wearing a toupee.


Episode 29 (Original Air Date - 18/4/1964)

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

Charley, the janitor, has lead his Mum to believe he is President of Osborne Industries. Chaos ensues when his mum decides to pay a visit.


Episode 30 (Original Air Date - 25/4/1964)

Moonlight and Dozes

When the factory nightwatchman looks like he is going to lose his job Harry goes into action.

Why I'm Everyone's Darling! by Phil Silvers


Phil Silvers (Talking to Henry Gris in Hollywood about his own new show, starting on Tuesday) . . . “I hope I’m still the people’s choice.What makes them love me? I’m the people's choice. It’s as simple as that. In my comedy, I knock down authority. That’s the tack I’ve chosen. But the audience always knows I’m kidding about it. When I think back to some of the things I’ve been identified with, like “High Button Shoes,” which was quite a time ago. I did every darned thing that a “con man” does. I hit children, absconded with the young girl of the family. I was absolutely despicable and yet the audience forgave me. In other hands, it might turn out grim, but somehow I’m forgiven.


One reason that might be is because I’m an impatient comedian. I think you should do things quickly or the audience will turn away. When I entered show business, I wasn’t a comedian. I started into the business with a violent desire for it, but I had no pattern to go by. None of my family or even my ancestors had ever been in show business or any remote form of it.

Actually, I got into the tail-end of what was the really great show business, the Palace Theatre era. I used to sing then, very well I must admit. However, I used to be very funny off-stage, in dressing rooms and at parties. But not on the stage. When I did get the opportunity to be funny on stage, I was green. I wasn’t relaxed . . . I couldn’t bring to the stage what I used to do off it. None of the things I’ve done has been planned, but I seemed instinctively to know that this was right when I went into burlesque and it was there that I got loosened up.

Since I had started in a higher echelon of show business I knew when I was being over-risque. But as they say, when in Rome . . . I did what I had to do, knowing all the time that there was a better way to do comedy. What is so important in burlesque is that you do so many things—you run the gamut of comedy. I grew up comedy-wise more in those five years of burlesque than I can tell you. With that invaluable experience, I usually know what’s funny, but when people ask me, “How do you make yourself funny?” I can’t answer them.

There’s no such thing as the comedy gimmick that never fails. Every comedian utilises gimmicks, but there’s always the doubt that they’ll misfire. There’s always that little bit of doubt and you have to attack it. I instinctively have a vision and a kind of up-on-the-fence viewpoint of what I do. It’s technical and it comes from vast experience. If I’m definitely sure it’s funny, then I’m very seldom wrong. If I feel at that explosive moment that it’s funny, then it usually turns out that way. Of course, I have a couple of favourite situations that are usually funny. And others I idolise as they come along. For me, everything starts with the world.

Although I usually play a brash kind of overbearing guy, I’m not as cocky and carefree with my approach to comedy as it looks. I think everything out, and then when I do something, no matter how obscure, I believe it. Take a favourite of mine, the “convincing situation,” where I try to make someone believe something that they have their doubts about. It’s essential for me to believe what I’m saying and what I’m doing, otherwise I can’t convince the character or the audience.

This new television show I’m doing is a real challenge to me because, unfortunately, it’s bound to be compared with Bilko. It’s unfair, but there’s nothing that I can do about it. You see, I’m starting from scratch, with a show that’s been well thought out.
My character, Harry Grafton, is a foreman in a factory. He’s a scamp, but he also happens to do his work very well. We haven’t established what the factory is, but it’s a huge one.

Harry and his crew are in the maintenance part—we fix the things that run the factory. Except that Harry can’t stand the boredom of it. He’s got a million things going for him. He manages the company coffee wagon and he owns vending machines. Frankly, this new show is life and death with me. It’s like anything I approach. After I make the deal and the contract’s signed and, believe me I’m as tense as the next guy, I want the top rate. But when our producer-director Rod Amateau says “Roll ’em,” all that disappears. I mean all the money. I’m not neurotically ambitious, but it’s got to be good.

At night when I go home from the studio, I disappear for hours to go over the script. It’s as if I was in a laboratory dissecting or creating something. I spend so much time preparing that when I do or say the most obscure thing I mean it. But when it’s done, I drop it. I have many other interests. I don’t wallow in my work night and day. I love other things—my wife, my four daughters, sports. I have a smattering of knowledge on most things. I’m a great hero worshipper.

I idolise great athletes or other performers. Take Peter Sellers. Just before we met recently I was standing there mouth open, gawking like a schoolboy. It was a thrill to meet him. And you know what? He said he felt the same way. But right now, I’ve got to concentrate on the show. We've got a wonderful staff, and I'm very happy at work. Frankly, I’d go nuts if I didn’t work. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m still the people’s choice.

TV Times
1 November 1963

Phil Silvers - Back On Screen



Phil gave the following interview in 1963 just as work had begun on framing a new weekly television show for him.


"I'm going into television just as if it was a brand new medium and I was a brand new comic. I can see the reviews already: 'It's not as good as Bilko.' Well that's okay. I can only do my best. If it's inevitable that I'll be compared to Bilko, I can't fight it.


The show will have me playing a foreman in a big industrial plant, the nature of which hasn't been determined yet. You can see the possibilities...he has a special time clock that punches him in a quarter to nine, no matter what time he arrives at work, which is usually around 10.30 or 11.00....he has a secret tunnel to the executives' washroom...that sort of thing.


He'll have a crazy bunch of guys under him, and I'll be picking them out soon. I'll do the same as I did for Bilko - throw open the doors and let any actor come in for five minutes of conversation.


Sure, the role I'll play will be like Bilko, but so was Top Banana, and so were all those parts I played in movies as John Payne's best friend. It's a part of me, and if I do say so myself, I play it pretty well!."



The New Phil Silvers Show Undergoes Changes



'The New Phil Silvers Show', which to the dismay of many became old rather fast, will undergo some changes. A basic decision arrived at by program doctors of the Columbia Broadcasting System is that a factory setting, in which Mr. Silvers plays a foreman, is much too confining. It limits story possibilities. So early in the year Mr. Silvers will break out of that confine and start travelling, with or without a tux.


Last night CBS took official recognition of Mr. Silvers' run-down rating. It switched the order of his show and "the Defenders", rescheduling the comedian from 9.30 to 10 and the other program from 8.30 to 9.30.The relatively low rating of the Silvers show had resulted in "The Defenders", a prized possession of CBS, getting a smaller rating than it had last season. In the hope of defending "The Defenders", CBS reversed the order. Also, it was reasoned, Mr. Silvers might find the going easier against the 9.30 competition on other networks than he had encountered at 8.30.


Until now CBS has had Mr. Silvers in that factory every Saturday night, which is hardly the place any red-blooded working man would yearn to be at that time of the week. It has become apparent to CBS that Mr. Silvers must be exposed to new comedy characters (which may prompt new castings), new and varied situations and fresh locales.


Because the comedian was an outstanding hit for several seasons as Sergeant Bilko, also on CBS, there have been rumors the network might subject him to another draft. But CBS said last week there was no chance Mr. Silvers would be reinducted in any branch of the military service. It still thinks he can adjust to the demands of civilian life and Nielsen ratings.


NY Times, November 17, 1963


The New Phil Silvers Show - Video Gallery


       Excerpts from episodes of Phil's 1963/64 CBS TV series The New Phil Silvers Show

75 & 1/2 Trombones (18/1/1963)

Birthday Boy (12/10/1963)

 Second Season Opening Credits

The Tortoise & The Harry (19/10/1963)