Phil Silvers

Active - 1940 - 2000  |   Born - May 11, 1912 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Died - Nov 1, 1985   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

From age 13 he sang in vaudeville, and a few years later was featured in some musical two-reelers. In 1934 Silvers joined Minsky's burlesque troop as a comedian. He began appearing in feature films as comic relief in 1940 and was quite busy onscreen through 1945, usually playing the hero's friend; after 1945 his film work was much less frequent, but he continued appearing onscreen through the early '80s. In 1951 he starred on Broadway in the musical comedy Top Banana, later reprising his role in the play's screen version (1954). In the late '50s Silvers was extremely popular as Sgt. Bilko on the TV sitcom "You'll Never Get Rich" (later re-titled "The Phil Silvers Show"), for which he won an Emmy Award. He authored an autobiography, The Laugh Is On Me (1973).

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  • At age 11, became a "breakdown singer" at a Brooklyn movie house, entertaining the audience whenever the projector failed.
  • Started in vaudeville at age 13.
  • Made his Broadway debut in 1938 in a Buddy Ebsen musical, "Yokel Boy."
  • One of his first screen tests was for the role of an English vicar in the 1940 production of Pride and Prejudice, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. He didn't get the part.
  • Introduced Lana Turner to legendary bandleader---and his pal---Artie Shaw. When the two eloped, it was left to Silvers to break the news to Shaw's girlfriend, Betty Grable.
  • Initially dismissed the concept of The Phil Silvers Show (aka You'll Never Get Rich) as "too Abbott and Costello."
  • Won the Best Comedian Emmy Award in 1956.
  • In 1981, guest starred on Happy Days opposite his daughter Cathy, who played Joanie's pal Jenny Piccalo.