Mr. Television

Former vaudevillian Milton Berle was given the nickname “Mr. Television” when thousands of people rushed out to buy televisions to watch his comedy variety program THE MILTON BERLE SHOW/NBC/1948-59 in the early days of television. Berle is also known as “Mr. Tuesday,” “Uncle Miltie” and “The Thief of Bad Gags.”


Comedian Joe E. Lewis once said “Milton Berle is responsible for more television sets being sold than anyone else. I sold mine, my father sold his.”

Some Milton Berle Witicisms

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

“Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.”

“A committee is a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours.”

“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”

“The company accountant is shy and retiring. He’s shy a quarter of a million dollars. That’s why he’s retiring.”

“My wife calls our waterbed the Dead Sea.”

“Poverty is not a disgrace, but it’s terribly inconvenient.”

“You don’t need to travel, laughter is an instant vacation.”

“They’ve finally come up with the perfect office computer. If if makes a mistake, it blames another computer.”

“Valentine’s Day is the day when you remember that Cupid was a lousy shot.”

“You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.”

“Your marriage is in trouble if your wife says, ‘You’re only interested in one thing,’ and you can’t remember what it is.”

Milton earned the nickname “Mr. Tuesday” because he closed down restaurants and movie theaters at eight O’clock on Tuesday nights when he starred on TEXACO STAR THEATRE and later THE MILTON BERLE SHOW/NBC/ABC/1948-56.

His nickname  “Thief of Bad Gags” came from influential Broadway columnist, Walter Winchell for allegedly pirating other comics materials. Defending himself against such accusations, Milton Berle quipped, “Not True. I never stole a joke in my life. I only found them before they’re lost.” Reportedly, Jackie Gleason used to hire two ushers’ at Loew’s Metropolitan Theater to copy down and supply him with materials taken from such well known vaudeville comedians as Milton Berle and Eddie Garr (Terri Garr’s father).

Born Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908, in New York City, comedian Milton Berle died on March 27, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA from colon cancer. He was 93.

Note: Announcer Ed McMahon (of THE TONIGHT SHOW fame) also earned the title “Mr. Television” when he worked locally for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia in the 1950s after appearing on thirteen concurrently running programs including STRICTLY FOR THE GIRLS, AUNT MOLLY & ED, THE SILENT SERVICE and THE BIG TOP (where he played a big-nosed clown).

THE ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVUE/NBC/DUM/1949 with Sid Caesar was canceled because the program’s sponsor, Admiral Electronics, couldn’t keep up with the orders for the televisions the show was generating. The first week 500 sets were sold. After the third week, 5000 sets were ordered. After nineteen weeks Admiral withdrew sponsorship. They were receiving orders for 10,000 sets a week and couldn’t keep up with demands. Revlon Cosmetics experienced a similar problem.

See also – “Milton Berle – TV Show (1956)” @ You Tube


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames

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