Milton Berle was born, Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908 and died March 27, 2002. Milton Berle, was an American comedian and actor. As the manic host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), in 1948 he was the first major star of US television and as such became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television to millions during TV's golden age. NBC signed him to an exclusive, unprecedented 30-year television contract in 1951. The problem with Berle's 30-year deal was that NBC could not have realized the relatively short lifespan of a comedian on television, compared to radio, where some careers had thrived for two decades. In part, this was due to the more ephemeral nature of visual comedy (those who do not adapt quickly do not survive), and a single television appearance could equal years of exposure on the nightclub circuit.
The Milton Berle Show
Texaco pulled out of sponsorship of the show in 1953. Buick picked it up, prompting a renaming to 'The Buick-Berle Show', and the program's format was changed to show the backstage preparations to put on a variety show. Critics generally approved of the changes, but Berle's ratings continued to fall and Buick pulled out after two seasons. By the time the again-renamed The Milton Berle Show finished its only full season, Berle was already becoming history - though his final season was host to two of Elvis Presley's earliest television appearances, April 3 and June 5, 1956. The final straw during that last season may have come from CBS scheduling 'The Phil Silvers Show' (aka 'You'll Never Get Rich' and 'Sergeant Bilko') opposite Berle. Ironically, Silvers was one of Berle's best friends in show business and had come to CBS' attention in an appearance on Berle's program. Bilko's creator-producer, Nat Hiken, had been one of Berle's radio writers.
Berle knew that NBC had already decided to cancel his show before Elvis appeared.
Interview with Milton Berle
Milton Berle talks about Elvis and his appearance on 'The Milton Berle Show', about his first meeting with Elvis that occurred when when Colonel Parker aksed Berle to audition him. It was on his second appearance on The Milton Berle show that Elvis' performance of 'Hound Dog' drove the audience wild, and had the press and some of the viewers appalled. It is one of his most controversial performances. It was also Elvis at his best.
About ten days latter Berle called Colonel Parker to tell him that based on the 'hundreds of thousands of 'pan' letters' he had received following the show that 'you have a star on your hands'.
Larry Auerbach talks about Elvis
Following is an edited interview with Larry Auerbach who talks about booking Elvis on his first TV show and taking him to buy his 'first' 'Jockstap' - and why he needed too.
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Elvis on national TV in the 1950s This detailed look at Elvis in the '50s includes several videos of Elvis live on stage including his army induction and much more.