Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on June 7, 1959 · Page 350
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 350

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Sunday, June 7, 1959
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Page 350
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Part 3t Page 18 w htrago gitttbatf Unburn : June 7, 1959 Show or No, He Won't Worry BY ROBERT ANDERSON JOE E. ROSS, better known as Ridzik, the meat-headed ' mess sergeant of the Sgt. Bilko show, grunted 2 to best stage stammer, mopped perspi Son from W ' SKS." Bilko TV "'Everybody is," he growled; "Phil Silvers most of all. It was a good show and we all enjoyed doing Tit but " you get kinda tired of the same routine aftr fouVanS a half years. u "I was only with the j T J.. ,, . . ' j'cuis oi course. and I didn't appear in every show, so I had it a lot easier than Phil. But I know how he felt." Ross had just finished his first act at the Black Orchid and was sitting there drumming thick fingers on the white tablecloth, watching the rest of the floofshow - - J jW 1 Started in show business," he said' taking m the dimly lighted club with a wave of his big hand.. I never acted before I signed on the Bilko show I was born m New York, on the east side, and started working 25 years ago as a singing waiter. PEOPLE don't believe now that I'm a night club conie- dun; they think I just do television-but it's the other way around. I'm more at home on these little stages with a live audience. I've always given this little routine worked in 'with a song or two and people liked it. Now nj come,one. they expect me to be Ridzik. 'Be Rid- zik -they yell, or ' where's Emma? ' Emma, that's my horrible wife on the Bilko show. ' for '2?u-lT W1 h3Ve g0tten int0 TV jt hadn't been for Nat Hiken. He's the guy who originated the Bilko show You know the story about Hiken and Silvers locking themselves up in a warehouse and shouting ideas at each other until they came up with the army sergeant-con man format. ' suii. !Hen is Iike that-he Duilt Milton Berle and" Martha Raye-he also invented the Doberman character for Maurice Gosfield on the Bilko show. He sees things in people that nobody else sees. -"The original mess sergeant in the Bilko show died in 1956 At that time I was doing'my act at a club in Miami Beach. Hikeri and Silvers happened to catch the show one night and Nat stood up in the middle of my act and said, -'There's my mess sergeant.' We talked after-ward and I wasn't too hot on doing TV, but I figured I had nothing to lose." TD OSS hitched his heavy frame back in the chair and signaled thru the gloom at a waiter. He ordered" black coffee and tasted it tentatively in his best mess sergeant's fashion. " " . 44&t&Lfc, 11 Thomas Recalls Biggest Night 1 RVIlPDVlirnimnn ' "V-' 1 BY LARRY WOLTERS XV-Boaio Editor UAb m called "the wailing Lebanese " but -never a "doubting Thomas." That's Danny, we're speaking of, whom Bob Hope once called " the west coast distributor of sentiment." Danny spent a week in Chicago recently. He was oii-n. muau ui me ume ne Joe E. Ross . .,. " One laugh and I made master sergeant." Not as good as that old army brew," he grinned. I wasn t really a mess sergeant in the army, I was in the motor pool. I served from 1943 to -1945 and I never made Pfc-I was a buck private all the way. Then! joined the Bilko show; I get one laugh and they make me a master ' sergeant. , h6'i glad the BUk0 show is over Ross admits that TV has done him a lot of good. It got him co-star billing m a couple of movies, "Hear Me Good" with Hal March and "Maracaibo" with Cornel Wilde. "I play a stupid con man in 'Hear Me Good' and a stupid oil man in 'Maracaibo.' Of course, Sgt. Ridzik never won any prizes himself for being an intellectual, l a just as soon play a stupid character, tho, if I can set laughs." 6 Ross is going back to New York' this month to shoot the pilot film for his own TV show. It's being written for him by Nat Hiken and Ross believes it.will be funny. . " "Anything that' Hiken does is funny," he declared. 'I'm going to be either a comic cop or a stupid private eye. They have to get the okay for a stupid cop from the New York police department. I'm going to keep the name Ridzik and my good old wife, Emma, will be in it' too I think." ' was here with bronchitis. laryngitis, or something. He wailed a bit about all the demands that were made on him. But he' came thru, playing an engagement every night for the electrical workers union, doing benefits, personal appearances, radio, and TV shows. . "I love Chicago," he declaimed again and again. " I got my first break here at the old 5100 Club. It is the warmest, friendliest city, in the world. 'Give 'it half a chance and it will help you." pulled him thru, even in his most difficult days. His TV show is in the top ten. And-he's beloved from coast to CO 3 St, ' . When asked to recall his most rewarding experience, Danny reflected a moment and said: "Well, let's keep personal matters out of this and make it a professional experience. Danny Thomas. "D OSS isn't really married. He was a few years ago, but' Sot a divorce on grounds of "geography," he said. I couldn't stand to live in California and she was an actress and refused, to leave Hollywood, so we decided to go separate ways." He lives alone in a New York apartment hotel and spends most of his time dreaming up new routines to make people laugh or working out in the gymnasium which occupies the floor below his apartment. If the TV show doesn't sell, Ross said it won't worry him at all. "I don't look forward to all the work that a weekly series involves," he said. "I think it will go be-cause CBS is making the pilot andthey'll push it themselves. If it doesn't, well, I'm 47 and too old to start learning how to worry now.-" Thomas, born poor himself, has been a champion of the underdog all his life. His major interest today, besides his own great TV show, is St. Jude hospital, soon to be built m Memphis as a leukemia research center for which he has raised a couple of million dollars. ' ' " Danny has many gifts and talents to be thankful for today, including a wonderful family. They are Rosemarie his wife, and three children, Margaret, fresh out of university, Teresa, and Tony. He has his faith, which always Cisco Kid Deplores TV Western Violence 1WIRLING the 'silver mounted six sun nut nt its The Top' 10 New Idol of the Rock V Roll Set 1. BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, Johnny Horton. 2. KANSAS CITY, Wil-bert Harrison. 3. QUIET VILLAGE, Martin Denny. 4. KOOKIE KOOKIE, Edd Byrnes and Connie Stevens. 5. DREAM LOVER, Bobby Darin. 6. HAPPY ORGAN, Dave Cortez. 7. PERSONALITY, Lloyd Price. 8. A TEEN AGER IN LOVE, Dion and Belmonts. 9. ONLY YOU, Frank Pourcel Strings. 10. SORRY, Impalas. rf0 FELLOW juniors at J South Philadelphia High school, he's Fabe Forte, oldest son of a local policeman, perenniel class president, and game-winning athlete. But to millions of rock and roll record fans, he's the Fabulous Fabian( who in little more than a year has zoomed from obscurity to where his records hit the top 10 and police reinforcements have to hold back squealing teenage crowds when he makes a personal appearance. How did it all happen? By Sheila John Daly He lived in the same neighborhood as teen idol Frankie Avalon and early last year one of Avalon's managers, Bob Marcucci, saw the handsome teen and asked if he were interested in a record career. At first Fabian, whose interest in music was so slight he scarcely ever bought a record, was incredulous. But one afternoon, when he "had nothing else to do," he cut a trial record for Marcucci. He admits CHICAGO 1 actually cried last night when the Voice of Firestone gave its last performance. It was like losing an old friend. Then anger surged within me when I . thought of all the trash on TV and a wonderful program like this being unable to purchase a decent viewing hour. This is a disgrace to the music loving public. Shame on TV networks for permitting this loss of one of the finest half hours that has ever been presented, and presented with such dignity! Mrs. T. B. MARENGO Is there nothing that fans of the Voice of Firestone can do to . prevent ABC-TV from dropping the show? It will be an incalculable loss if the program is definitely discontinued. Here is a family program wj.ich brings culture and entertainment to people who want a little mere than westerns and rock 'n' roll. R A. N. ' There is something the fans car. do: Write pleas for bringing the program back on the air and' address them to Raymond Firestone, president of the Firestone Tire and Rubber company, Akron, O. frankly it was terrible. But Marcucci and partner Peter de Angelis sensed that Fabian had a flair, staked him to four months of vocal lessons and tried again. It took almost a year, four records, and endless personal appearances before Fabian finally clicked with "Turn Me Loose," which hit the top ten in record sales. His first album, "Hold That Tiger," a combination of rock and roll tunes and ballads, was released in April. Within two weeks it numbered among the top 15. ' . . holster, the Cisco Kid declared, "I'm as fast on the araw as anyone m the business, but I never shoot people indiscriminately. I believe television westerns with their wholesale slaughter are ruining the fine traditions of our old west. They are having a bad effect on youngsters all over the country." ' Leo Carrillo, who plays Pancho to Duncan Renaldo's id in the TV series seen at 6 P- m- Mondays on WGN-TV, nodded his agreement with the kid's statement. "We never shoot nobody," Pancho said. "We always outsmart the outlaws and leave them for the authorities to punish." Cisco and Pancho were in Chicago to ride in the Medinah Black Horse troop's Horsecapades of 1959 Everywhere they went children would shout "heeey Paancho ooo Ceesco! " in imitation of the' dialog which closes each episode in the TV series. llrr."These television westerns are a crime," Cisco said They are filled with violence so dastardly it makes your hair stand on end. That's why we always give a lecture on safety with firearms in our personal appearances." Cisco pointed out the rattlesnake engraved along the top of his gun's barrel. "This is to remind children that guns are treacherous," he said. On the sides of the barrel are the legends "Do Not Touch Me," and "I Don't Want to Hurt You." w IT HAPPENED in 1943 at Madison Square Garden at the Police Athletic League benefit show. I had just . come east from Chicago to play my first New York night club engagement at the Martinique. , , - "Everybody was on the bill that night. 0, 1 couldn't .begin to remember them all: Milton Berle, the late Fred Allen, Red Buttons, 'Jackie Gleason, Ray Bolger, Sophie Tucker, Jackie Miles, Henny Youngmah, the Andrews Sisters. So many others. Bert Lytell, God rest his soul, was the master of ceremonies and Ed Sullivan was helping him. i 6 "I was probably-the least known entertainer there but I had been invited to appear. Then, by some slip I was passed over. " All those great people had the tremendous audience cheering for hours and Kate Smith had sung 'God Bless America' with the United States Marine band, to wrap up the show,. Then Sullivan remembered that I had been overlooked. He passed the word to Lytell and I trembled at the thought of trying to follow all those great stars. . - . rpHEN HE began his introduction. It was a laudatory, 1 flowery speech, and finally he wound it up with: And now I give you Danny KAYE.' Ed corrected him, ' No it's Danny Thomas!' - - ' " I was frozen with fear; I was deaf,' I heard nothing. That walk from the wings seemed like a full city block-actually it was -almost a half, block. My right knee was trembling. I was wearing a silk gabardine s'uit-and the pants leg fluttered like a flag in the breeze. " I finally stammered, ' If you'll excuse me; I just got into New York from Chicago by bus. It was quite a trip.' . . .4And then I( went into my ' bus ' story, which was new then, but has since then become a favorite among my fans, God bless them. " A roar of laughter and applause went up so, they tell me, alth,o I can't remember anything. "And so, what seemed like certain disaster a few minutes earlier, turned miraculously into a moment of glory. That's the way it often is in life what seems like it must be defeat can be turned into a triumph. " It was an unforgettable experience for me. Many wonderful things have happened to me in the 16 intervening years, but nothing quite as exciting as that." Dick and His Cat j Jofnis-ManyilBe and Mrs. AMERICA urge you to see 7-STAR EDGEWOOD ESTATES No Future.' Lucille Ball was told at the age of 16, after a year of drama school, that she never would be an actress. wear FALSE TEETH? eoty chew, smile with Helps keep seeds out . . . plate snug Helps ease pressure on gums Helps prevent clicking XT YOUt DRUE STOKE MONTH'S SOfW 60 S995 down is all you need to buy George's Dr biS luxurious Bi-Level, priced way below hfli competition, truly gracious living; includes the largest rooms you ever saw. All improvements are in and paid for by George no assessments to buyer. Minimum lot size is 64'xllO' and it's close to schools, shops and transportation.' See some of the most outstanding models in all Chicagoland. Models .iii'stl''?!; Pen daily and Sunday from 12 to' 6. MRS. AMERICA, ihe nation's No. 1 Homemaker, says, "Look for this 7-Star Birn. It means that quality materials by Johns-Manville have been used to give you greater -value for your money." Mrs. America, Inc. DIRECTIONS: Go west on Lake St. Rte. 20) to Neva Ave.; then go I block north to Model Neva is 4I0 mile west of Addison Rd. (We build on your lot or ours.) GEO. WALLACH BUILDER 3 Chicago Ave., Oak Park Vl 8-9250 Kl 3-9554 Thais Aouia or built wllh X ';? aU fejSricpcuSjl I for COMFORT, SAFiiTY and IOW UPKEEP COST PROTECTS YOUR HOUSE AGAINST: Firs Wind Rusf & Decay Summer Heat Weafher Upkeep expense Winter Cold Jack Diamond, as Dick Whit tington, holds the cat which brings him his fortune in " Dick Whittington and His Cat." a fairy tale to be presented on Shirley Temple's Storybook at 6:30 p. m. Monday on ABC-TV. 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