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Phil Silvers

Phil Silvers

Appears as Master Sergeant Ernest G. (Ernie) Bilko on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp, issued 11 August 2009, in the Early TV Memories issue honoring "The Phil Silvers Show" (1955).

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 740-741. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.

Daughter Tracey Silvers is a film producer and writer.

Discovered by impressario Gus Edwards and hired to perform as a singer in vaudeville at the age of thirteen. Three years later, he appeared as a comedian in burlesque shows, often with his long-standing partner and friend Herbie Faye. On Broadway, made his debut in musical comedy in 'Yokel Boy' in 1939.

Enjoyed a long string of Broadway successes, most notably "High Button Shoes" (1948), "Top Banana" (1951, for which he won a Tony award), "Do-Re-Mi" (1961), "How the Other Half Loves" (1970), and the revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1971, and another Tony win).



Father-in-law of writer/director/composer Iren Koster.

Had 5 daughters with his second wife, Evelyn Patrick: Tracey Silvers (1957), Nancey Silvers, Cathy Silvers, Candace Silvers (1961) and Laury Silvers (1963). Grandfather of Jaclyn Sara Silvers.

Has won two Tony Awards as Best Actor (Musical): in 1952 for "Top Banana," a part that he recreated in the film version of the same name, Top Banana (1954), and in 1972 for a revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." He was also nominated in the same category in 1961 for "Do Re Mi."

He was a gambling addict. Once, when complaining about his lack of work and being broke in Los Angeles, he absent-mindedly pulled out a large wad of bills. When asked about why did not live on that money, he replied it did not count because it was only his gambling money.

He wrote the lyrics to the Jimmy Van Heusen song "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" for friend Frank Sinatra's firstborn child Nancy Sinatra.

His first wife, Jo-Carroll Dennison was Miss America of 1942.

His Gladasya production company co-produced "Gilligan's Island" (1964).

Interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Later in life, after having cataract surgery on both eyes and with lenses then implanted in his eyes, he no longer needed eyeglasses. However, he continued to wear them without any glass in them -- just the frames -- because his glasses were, after all, his trademark.

Silvers' sight was failing fast, and to compensate for this fact he was wearing contact lenses as well as glasses. It was a familiar sight to see Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth, and Silvers scatting around the sand for a lost lens while filming Carry on in the Legion (1967).

Suffered a stroke in 1972.


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