Milton Berle Inducted Into Jewish-American Hall of Fame
Milton Berle is the 39th inductee into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, a non-profit, educational project, founded in 1969. Previous honorees have included Albert Einstein, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Golda Meir and Hank Greenberg. A portrait plaque has been added to the exhibit on display at the headquarters of B’nai B’rith in Washington DC.
Milton Berle, known as “Mr. Television” and “Uncle Miltie,” was born as Milton Berlinger in New York City on July 12, 1908, His onstage antics got underway in 1913 when he won a look-alike contest with his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. Berle appeared as a child actor in silent films, beginning with The Perils of Pauline (1914), filmed in Fort Lee, New Jersey with Pearl White.
In 1942, Milton Berle accepted an offer to star in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. To illustrate what a major box-office attraction Berle had become, the producers agreed to put his name above the title of the show. This was a huge concession, and Berle says it's the only time in the history of the Follies that a performer saw his name above the title. The Ziegfeld Follies opened on April 1, 1943, and ran for 553 performances. As if that wasn't enough to keep Berle busy, he also found the time to squeeze in camp shows for the GIs, benefits for the Red Cross, appearances to help sell war bonds and broadcasts for Armed Forces Radio. He also entertained troops in Vietnam.
Milton Berle received one of the first Emmy Awards ever given for starring in NBC's Texaco Star Theater (1948), was the first person to be inducted into the Television Hall of Fame (1984), the first inductee into the Comedy Hall of Fame (1992), and the first to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Television Academy (1996).
Berle was named to the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of charity performances made by a show-business performer over a period of 50 years. He hosted the first charity telethon (for the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund) in 1949, and years later became a permanent fixture at charity benefits in the Hollywood/Los Angeles area, where Milton Berle was instrumental in raising millions of dollars.
Mel Wacks, Director
High resolution photograph available upon request.