Milton Berle (born Mendel Berlinger; July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002) was an American comedian and actor. As the host of NBC's
Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major American television star and was known to millions of viewers as "Uncle Miltie" and "Mr. Television"
during TV's golden age. From 1934–36, Berle was heard regularly on The Rudy Vallee Hour, and he attracted publicity as a regular on The Gillette Original
Community Sing, a Sunday night comedy-variety program broadcast on CBS from September 6, 1936 to August 29, 1937. In 1939, he was the host of Stop Me If
You've Heard This One with panelists spontaneously finishing jokes sent in by listeners. In the late 1940s, he canceled well-paying nightclub appearances to
expand his radio career. Three Ring Time, a comedy-variety show sponsored by Ballantine Ale, was followed by a 1943 program sponsored by Campbell's Soups.
The audience participation show Let Yourself Go (1944–1945) could best be described as "slapstick radio" with studio audience members acting out long
suppressed urges—often directed at host Berle. Kiss and Make Up, on CBS in 1946, featured the problems of contestants decided by a jury from the studio
audience with Berle as the judge. Berle also made guest appearances on many comedy-variety radio programs during the 1930s and 1940s. Scripted by Hal Block
and Martin Ragaway, The Milton Berle Show brought Berle together with Arnold Stang, later a familiar face as Berle's TV sidekick. Others in the cast were
Pert Kelton, Mary Schipp, Jack Albertson, Arthur Q. Bryan, Ed Begley, Brazilian singer Dick Farney, and announcer Frank Gallop. Sponsored by Philip Morris,
it aired on NBC from March 11, 1947 until April 13, 1948. Berle later described this series as "the best radio show I ever did ... a hell of a funny variety
show". It served as a springboard for Berle's emergence as television's first major star.