Comedian Milton Berle Dead at 93
It's the end of an era. After a protracted fight against colon cancer, Milton Berle, who had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in 1998, died at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday at the age of 93, his spokesman told Reuters. To millions of viewers he was "Mr. Television," host of the country's most popular variety show from 1948 to 1956, whose cigar-smoking, cross-dressing antics made him an "overnight sensation" at the age of 40. Born Milton Berlinger in 1908, the New York native began his career in childhood. He went on to perform in silent movies and perfected his comic timing on radio and on the vaudeville stage. But it was the new medium that made him a superstar. The television pioneer is credited with inventing the variety show, first with NBC's "Texaco Star Theater" from 1948 to 1953, and then when the program was renamed "The Milton Berle Show," which ran until 1956. Berle also brought his wise guy persona to films in a career that spanned nine decades. Highlights include roles in "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, "The Muppet Movie" and Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose." Berle is survived by his third wife, Lorna Adams, whom he married in 1992, and his daughter, Vicki Walton (his son Bill died in 1989).
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