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 Joe E. Ross

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Joe E. Ross

Comic Actor. He was best remembered for his television role of Officer Toody in the 1960s classic television show, "Car 54, Where are You?" (1961-1963). Born Joseph Roszawikz in New York City, he attended Seward Park High School, leaving it at age 16 in 1930 to become a singing waiter at the Van Cortlandt Inn. When the restaurant added a dancer and singer, he was promoted to announcer. He then added some jokes to his introduction, and quickly became known as a comedian. In 1938, he appeared at the Queens Terrace dinner theater, where Jackie Gleason had been playing, and Ross turned into a burlesque comic on the Schuster group out of Chicago. When the United States entered World War II, Ross served in the Army Air Force at Camp Blanding, Florida, and later was sent to England. Released from military service at the end of the war, Ross became an announcer-comic for Billy Gray's Bandbox in Hollywood. In 1955, he appeared as a burlesque announcer in the film, "Teaserama," a film that recreated the world of a burlesque show. Later that year, he worked in a Miami Beach nightclub, the Club Ciro, where he was spotted by writer/director Nat Hiken and actor Phil Silvers, and hired to play the role of Mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzik, opposite Phil Silvers as Sergeant Bilko, in the television sitcom "You'll Never Get Rich" (later renamed "The Phil Silvers Show" (1955-1959). Ross would make the Ritzik role his own, playing an easy mark for Bilko's con games, by stammering "Ooh! Ooh!" whenever he had an idea and alerting Bilko to work his con. Silvers would later admit that he often changed the lines from the practiced script to confuse Ross, resulting in Ross's confused exclamation of "Ooh! Ooh!," which Silvers then would use to ab-lib his own lines. When the "Phil Silvers Show" ended in 1959, Hiken went on to produce "Car 54, Where are You?" and cast Ross as Patrolman Gunther Toody, with actor Fred Gwynne playing his partner, Patrolman Frances Muldoon. Ross became so identified with the policeman role that in 1964, that he recorded an album of songs he titled "Love Songs from a Cop" (released under the Roulette Records label). Ross would later play the role of Gronk, in the short-lived television sitcom, "Its About Time" (1966), which featured two American astronauts who went back into time to the prehistoric era, returning with Gronk to modern times. When that sitcom failed, Ross returned to his roots in nightclubs, and showing up occasionally in poorly acted, low budget films such as "How to Seduce a Woman" (1974), "Linda Lovelace for President" (1975), "The Happy Hooker goes to Washington" (1977), and "Gas Pump Girls" (1979). Ross's personal life was often messy and chaotic, and his friend, Phil Silvers, once estimated that Ross had been married 11 times. Ross died while on stage in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 68.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson







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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1605
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joe E. Ross (15 Mar 1914–13 Aug 1982), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1605, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .