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 Phil Silvers

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Phil Silvers

  • Birth 11 May 1911 Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
  • Death 1 Nov 1985 Century City, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Gardens of Tradition, Lot 1004
  • Memorial ID 1238

Comedian, Actor. He is best remembered for his classic role of ‘Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko’, in the television series, "You'll Never Get Rich," later changed to "The Phil Silvers Show" (1954 to 1959). Born Philip Silversmith in New York City, he started in show business as a child actor in vaudeville, and by 1934, he was working in Minsky's Burlesque, where he trained in comic routines and perfected his timing. Eventually, he was brought to Hollywood, and in a classic Phil Silvers comedy routine, he relates that they didn't know what to do with him, so the Hollywood moguls have him test for a role of vicar in "Pride and Prejudice". Despite roles in such movies as "You're in the Army Now," (1941) with Jimmy Durante, "Tom, Dick and Harry" (1941), and "Four Jills in a Jeep" (1944), he was slow to capture audience interest. He eventually gained some success with the Broadway production of "Top Banana" (1951), where he played ‘Jerry Biffle’, a burlesque comic who becomes a television star. The play won him a Tony award. The play was put to film in 1954, and again, Silvers only did marginally at the box office. He finally hit the perfect role in 1954, as ‘Master Sergeant Ernie Bilko’, con man and gambler extraordinaire, in the Nat Hiken's television show, "You'll Never Get Rich." So popular was this show that the next season, it's name was changed to "The Phil Silvers Show," and it continued on for several seasons, ending in 1959. This show won him two Emmy Awards, and gave him the recognition he sought. Later successes, while not as great as his role of ‘Bilko’, used the Bilko-like carnie, con man persona to win him notice, in such films as "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963), "A Guide for the Married Man" (1967), and "The Boatniks" (1970). Although a stroke had left him with slurred speech, he continued to make films, acting in "The Strongest Man in the World" (1975), "The Chicken Chronicles" (1977), and "The Cheap Detective" (1978). In 1973, he published his autobiography, "This Laugh is on Me." He died of a heart attack in November 1985, in Century City, California.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1238
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Phil Silvers (11 May 1911–1 Nov 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1238, citing Mount Sinai Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .