Milton Berle (American, 1908-2002)

Starting out as a child actor on the stage, Berle’s entertaining career lasted over 80 years through stage, silent films, radio, movies, and television. He earned the name “Mr. Television” because of his ubiquitous presence as a personality and being the first major American television star. 
In the 1930s, Berle starred in musical comedies, but it was his hosting of NBC’s the Texaco Star Theatre on Tuesday nights that caused the show to reach the number one slot in ratings with a 97% share of the viewing audience. As one of the first examples of mass popular culture in this new medium, some restaurants and theaters even closed for the hour of Berle’s show so as not to miss his performance. During Segregation, he challenged the rule to not allow Black performers on the screen and afterwards was able to book acts like Lena Horn and Bill Robinson. After his show was canceled in the 1950s, Berle appeared in numerous films as well as in casinos and stages around America, and in the 1960s made appearances on many major television sitcoms. Berle seemed to light up for the camera, showing off his expressive face, dance moves, and comedic poses.