Milton Berle Biography (Personal Life, Career)

Born Milton Berlinger, the stand-up comedian and actor was the first major star of US television known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television to millions during TV's golden age. The stand-up comedian had two other nicknames:The Boy Wonder (as child star) and The Thief of Bad Gags. The stand-up comedian chose Milton Berle as his professional name when he was 16.

Personal Life

The stand-up comedian Milton Berle was born to a Jewish family in Manhattan, New York, US, on 12th July, 1908. His father, Moses Berlinger was a paint and varnish salesman. His mother, Sarah (Sadie) Glantz Berlinger eventually became stage-struck and changed her name to Sandra Berle when her son became famous. The stand-up comedian was educated at New York Professional Children's School, and began performing at the age of 5.

The stand-up comedian had been married 4 times: to Joyce Mathews, from 1941 to 1947 when they got divorced. He remarried her again two years later until 1950, when they broke up for good. The comedian married Ruth Cosgrove from 1953 to 1989 when she died. The stand-up comedian Milton Berle was married for a fourth time in 1992 to Lorna Adams, a fashion designer 30 years younger than he was, whom he credited for 'keeping him young'. He had two children, Victoria (adopted by Berle and Mathews) and William (adopted by Berle and Cosgrove). The stand-up comedian had two stepdaughters from his marriage to Lorna Adams—Leslie and Susan Brown. He also had two grandsons, James and Mathew, the sons of his daughter, Victoria.

The stand-up comedian became vegetarian in the early 1940s. He suffered a mild stroke at his home in California in 1999, and died in March 27, 2002, at his home in Los Angeles from colon cancer. He was 93.


Milton Berle's stand-up comedy career is one of the longest and most varied in show business. The stand-up comedian started his career at the age of five, appearing as a child in The Perils of Pauline when he won a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest, and he appeared with Chaplin and Marie Dressler in "Tillie's Punctured Romance. The comedian continued to play child roles in other films: Bunny's Little Brother, Tess of the Storm Country, Birthright, Love's Penalty, Divorce Coupons and Ruth of the Range.

Milton Berle's biography in show business is impressive. At the age of 12 he made his stage debut in Florodora. Through the 1920s, Berle moved up to comedy routines. He was often accused for stealing the material of fellow comedians. The stand-up comedian appeared in a variety of Hollywood films and further polished his comedy routines in night clubs and on radio. By the early 1930s he had become a successful stand-up comedian. In 1933, Milton was hired by producer Jack White to star in Poppin' the Cork, a topical musical comedy.

The comedian made guest appearances on many comedy-variety radio programs during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1934–36, the stand-up comedian was heard regularly on The Rudy Vallee Hour. From 1936-1937, every Sunday night, the comedian was heard on The Gillette Original Community Sing, a comedy program broadcast on CBS. In 1939, the comedian was the host of Stop Me If You've Heard This One, in 1944-1945 he hosted the show Let Yourself Go , and in 1946 the show Kiss and Make Up. The comedian’s last radio series was The Texaco Star Theater on ABC (1948 -1949).

In 1948, NBC decided to bring Texaco Star Theater from radio to television, with Berle as one of the show's four rotating hosts. Soon, the show became television's most popular program during its early years. Within two months, Berle became television's first super-star, with the highest ratings ever attained and was soon called "Mr. Television," "Mr. Tuesday Night," and "Uncle Miltie." The one-hour live comedy show included visual vaudeville routines, music, comedy and sketches. This was one of the first television shows to be promoted through merchandising, including Uncle Miltie t-shirts, comic books and chewing gum.

In 1951, the stand-up comedian signed a contract with NBC granting him $200,000 a year for 30 years providing he appears on NBC exclusively. He later joked about this contract saying: "30 years with NBC? That's not a contract. That's a sentence!" In 1965, the comedian renegotiated his 30-year contract with NBC, allowing him to appear on any channel. Berle was featured on Kraft Music Hall in the late 1950s and Jackpot Bowling, a 1960s game show.

In addition to television, Berle's career in the later years included film, night clubs, stand-up comedies and benefit shows. The stand-up comedian had been appearing in roughly 50 movies with stars like: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies and Mabel Normand. He appeared in numerous films, including Always Leave Them Laughing with Virginia Mayo and Bert Lahr, Let's Make Love with Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Loved One, The Oscar, Who's Minding the Mint?, Lepke, Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose and Driving Me Crazy.

The stand-up comedian has been the subject of nearly every show business tribute and award, including an Emmy and TV specials. With his impressive stand-up career and biography, the comedian was for sure a source of encouragement and technical assistance for many new comics and he is still the biggest comedian ever for a nation of grateful fans who still call him "uncle."

Quick Info Milton Berle Biography (Personal Life, Career)

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