|Uncle Miltie & pins|
In 1950, Milton Berle, aka "Uncle Miltie", was the host of the most-watched show on television, Texaco Star Theatre and was by far the most popular star on television, in fact he was known as "Mr. Television". Ten years later Milton Berle was hosting Jackpot Bowling.
Milton Berle summed up the show: "Twenty-one minutes of bowling and nine minutes of Milton Berle. Nine minutes? I usually bow that long!"
Jackpot Bowling had been on NBC TV for three years before the producers had the brilliant idea of hiring Uncle Miltie as MC for comedy relief, delivering an opening, rapid-fire bowling-joke oriented monolog before turning things over to announcer Chick Hearn who called the matches between the professional bowlers. Berle would return and kibbitz with special guest stars, including Buddy Hackett, Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Darin, Jack Dempsey, Diana Dors, The Ritz Brothers...
... all bowling for their favorite charities, then later close the show with more bowling related jokes. The show, filmed at the Hollywood Legion Lanes in Hollywood actually garnered good ratings but after six months Milton Berle bowed out, perhaps due to a better offer... or due to sheer embarrassment.
| "Only Milton Berle would have the nerve to |
stand in a bowling alley and tell jokes" -George Burns
TV Guide's 1961 preview of new Monday night shows (including The Andy Griffith Show)
The sponsor called me up-- and I said "I'll take it!"- Milton Berle
thanks to "The Worst TV Shows Ever" by Bart Andrews & Brad Dunning (Dutton)
and to Kliph Nesteroff