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Tributes to Milton Berle, Dudley Moore

Aired March 31, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Mr. Television -- Uncle Miltie. Remembering the legend who revolutionized an industry.

We'll also pay tribute to Dudley Moore. Next on a very special LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. The entertainment world lost two greats this week.

And tonight we're going to remember them both in their own words.

We begin with Milton Berle, who truly understands his impact on television.

Consider this, his "Texaco Star Theater" got the highest Nielsen ratings ever. People went out and bought TVs just to see that show.

Stores, restaurants around the country closed Tuesday night, because customers stayed home watching Mr. Television.

But Berle's career didn't begin on the tube.


MILTON BERLE: I started out as a child model.

KING: A child model.

BERLE: Yeah, you know, with the hats and sweaters and everything.

KING: You were a good-looking kid.

BERLE: Well, thank you. But ...

KING: No, I mean, were you -- you must have been ...

BERLE: I was cute, if you like that type. Anyway, I was the Buster Brown boy when I was five years old.

You know, "My name is Buster Brown. I live in a shoe. This is my dog Tige, he lives there, too."

That was me, five years old, 1913. KING: Nineteen thirteen.

BERLE: And then I did (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You want me to hold your stick down?

KING: Tell me what happened, Miltie. We've got an hour.

BERLE: You've got an hour. A half hour to see it, and a half hour to regret it.

KING: OK ...

BERLE: But any (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but I want to say about ...

KING: So you were five.

BERLE: ... and I was five years old. And then running back to 19 ...

KING: Thirteen.

BERLE: ... '13 and '14, we had a Charlie Chaplin contest. Everybody imitated Charlie Chaplin.

So, I did the same thing. I put on -- I cut up my mother's fur muff and put mucilage and used my father's hat.

Of course, I got the hell kicked out of me after that, but I paraded the streets up in the Bronx. And some man followed me and took me and said -- took me home. My mother thought I was being arrested.

So, she said, what's the trouble? And he said, well, I represent a theater in Mt. Vernon, and we're holding a Charlie Chaplin contest. Would you like to enter your son in this contest?

And my mother said, how much? No, no. She didn't said that. She says, be glad, be happy to.

So, we went up to Mt. Vernon. I won the -- I took first prize, which was a 49-cent loving cup.

Anyway, that was the beginning of it. Then I appeared ...

KING: That picture went to Chaplin, right?

BERLE: Ah, that's the whole thing. That picture showed I was -- is there an animal act in the show, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no, that's funny. Anyway ...


BERLE: There was an animal act.

Anyway, then I did the imitation. And Chaplin heard about me and got in touch indirectly to me ... KING: And he gave you your break?

BERLE: He gave me my break in ...


BERLE: ... silent pictures as the first picture, long picture that he made, a feature picture called "Tillie's Punctured Romance."

KING: And you played a kid?

BERLE: Yeah, and Mabel Normand was in it and Marie Dressler. And I played ...

KING: OK, now you can't remember that.

BERLE: Who can't?

KING: I mean, because we don't remember when we're five years old.

BERLE: You don't.

KING: I don't. Not many people do.

BERLE: Yeah, but ...

KING: What did you do in that movie?

BERLE: ... this king does.

KING: Oh. This king ...


KING: And did you, were you then -- did you know that early, I want to do this?

BERLE: Well, ...

KING: I mean, you were a child star. You were in a Chaplin movie.

Did you know somewhere early that I want to do this for a living?

BERLE: Well, I didn't know if it was going to be a living, but my mother, who at that time, back in 1913 or '14, was one of the first women policeman. She was New York police department.

I don't know if you know that.

KING: I didn't know.

BERLE: Oh, sure, ...

KING: She was a cop? BERLE: Yeah, she was a ...

KING: A woman cop in ...

BERLE: ... oh, yeah, sure. And she was a private investigator.

And she also was a store detective, and she was in Gimbel's and Sachs and Wanamaker's. And so she was striving, because my father was always sick, because he had trouble with his ticker.

And he passed away in 19 -- when he was only 63.

And so my mother really held the family together. I had three brothers -- Phil, Frank, Jack -- and my sister Rosalind.

And it was the only (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

KING: Your mother pushed you into show business.

BERLE: Oh, well ...

KING: Your mother was a show business mother, right?

BERLE: Well, let me put it this way. She made -- how should I put this -- Gypsy Rose Lee's mother look like Mary Poppins.

In other words, with the strength that she was as a policewoman -- not rough, but she knew jujitsu. She knew how to handle everything.

And she pushed me. She was a stage mother.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... go through the door!


KING: All that was live.

BERLE: You know ...

KING: There was no tape, folks. No kinescope. No nothing, ...

BERLE: Absolutely.

KING: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was live television every Tuesday night at eight.

BERLE: Yes, at eight o'clock live.

KING: The Texaco ...

BERLE: Star Theater.

KING: ... Star Theater. BERLE: And I wanted ...

KING: It was never the Milton Berle Show.

BERLE: Well, no.

KING: It was "The Texaco Star Theater" ...

BERLE: With -- starring Milton Berle.

KING: ... starring Milton Berle.

BERLE: With the exception of the Ziegfeld Follies, which was before that, I was the only one -- it's a little hammy, but I have to say it, being a little "Berled" ham -- but I was the only one that ever starred over the title of the Ziegfeld Follies.

I don't know if you ever know that.

KING: Didn't know that.

BERLE: Yeah. Back in 1943.

KING: And it said Milton Berle in ...

BERLE: In the Ziegfeld Follies.

KING: ... the Ziegfeld Follies.

BERLE: But Phil Silvers was brilliant, all that stuff I had noticed that the camera followed you, ...

BERLE: ... nothing worked, and that was all ad lib and improv.

And he was one of the greatest.


BERLE: I want to greet so many of my friends, and just to know ...


BERLE: You know, being insulting the way you are, you shouldn't do that to me because I'm a big man.

I mean, I'm a big man.

SILVERS: How do you mean that?

BERLE: Well, I mean, I have my own show. I'm the star of my own ...

SILVERS: Oh, your own show ...

BERLE: Sure. SILVERS: I never miss.

BERLE: You never miss it?

SILVERS: I never see it, so I never miss it.


KING: Do you see the things that make you laugh, or ...

BERLE: Yes, I do.

KING: You do. You can be surprised.

BERLE: Oh ...

KING: All the years you've told jokes and heard jokes, and all the elements of humorous (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

BERLE: I don't really laugh, Larry, at joke jokes. Because I think I know the punch lines.

KING: Right. That's your own guess.

BERLE: I laugh ...

KING: What makes you laugh?

BERLE: Which is the definition between a comic and a comedian? And you what it -- Ed Wynn said it. He said a comic is a guy who says funny things. And a comedian is a guy who says things funny.

KING: You're a comedian.

BERLE: Well I can be both, but, when I want somebody -- I laugh at their attitude and delivery. See, it doesn't have to be a joke.

But to be humorous is like, if a guy, or like -- we'll say Dick Cavett, God bless him, or even Jack Paar, just said something lightly ...

KING: Attitude.

BERLE: ... attitude and style. If you haven't got the style, you're in bad shape.

Audience have to go out of a place taking something with them. That's the fellow who.

KING: OK. But a joke, you know where a joke's going?


KING: Pretty much?

BERLE: Usually. KING: Because ...

BERLE: Why, you want to sell them?

KING: No, no. Everything goes around, comes around, right? I mean, there are ...

BERLE: Well, yeah, but ...


BERLE: ... switches (ph).

If you're doing jokes and you want to topicalize them, and instead of using Truman, you're going to use Bill Clinton, ...

KING: It's just a switch. You've heard it all before.

BERLE: Like the wonderful guy says, I never tell political jokes, because they usually get elected.

KING: Yeah, ...

BERLE: Well, ...

KING: ... I want to talk more about the shows. We've got a lot time. You have this book.

BERLE: Oh, about my book?

Well, this book ...

KING: I could turn to any page and it's funny.

BERLE: Yeah, but, no -- to you it's funny. To you ...


BERLE: ... if you'll read it. But I want to hear you deliver it.


BERLE: I'm going to give you a little ...


BERLE: ... instruction.

KING: ... go ahead. Go ahead.

BERLE: I'm laughing, because I know what I'm going to say next.

For example, these are some one-liners from the book, on the dusty (ph).

You read -- but give me with the delivery.

KING: God created the earth in six days because he didn't have to wait for a legal opinion.

BERLE: No good, no good.

KING: I've got to believe -- you're shouting (ph).

BERLE: No, no, no, no. No good.

KING: I don't do one-liners.

BERLE: No, you do ...

KING: I do stories.

BERLE: I know you do stories. I know. I heard them all. I heard all the stories about you in all the papers, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about doing this. You've got to take your time. You've got to set the setting for the audience -- the image.

Do you know that God created -- and really be serious, and be honest and true, as you are on your own show.

KING: Do you know that God created the earth in only six days.

BERLE: Really?

KING: Because he didn't have a legal opinion. Good.

BERLE: Now, give me the next line and take -- slow up, please, at the beginning ...

KING: Draw it out.

BERLE: No, no. Start with the beginning, and then zing in the punch line a little faster.

KING: My doctor believes in shock treatments -- his bill.

BERLE: Good. Good. Very good. You know, I've been watching you for now, 63 years.

No. I've been watching you now for eight years ...

KING: I'm going to let that slide.

BERLE: ... on CNN, right?

KING: Right.

BERLE: And you are an original. Are you surprised? And you've got to have style, and you've got to have a point of view.

And your identification has never been done before, as a spokesman or a -- and that's wearing suspenders.

Oh, you don't wear a coat. You wear suspenders. And I want to ask you why.

I know it's a joke. Why does a fireman wear suspenders? To keep his pants up. I know that joke.

But you party.

KING: Last ...

BERLE: Last night was terrific. I enjoyed it. And Lorna and I loved it, and you're 60 years old and I want to congratulate you, but -- at the party, it was so grand and so many people making noise and raving and kissing you. I mean, not the women. Some of the men were kissing you.

But, I -- we have a present for you. I have a little present for you and I -- you're staring, see?

You, folks, back on the king -- the real one, thank you.

This is for you. Now we cut to him and you open it.

KING: This is saran wrap.

BERLE: No, it's not a condom. It's not a condom.


BERLE: With an autograph on the back, on the thing there.

Isn't that lovely? Twelve cents.

KING: Where's the autograph?

BERLE: Right here. The ...

KING: Oh, oh, ...

BERLE: You want glasses, too?

KING: "Happy birthday, Milton Berle."

BERLE: And I love you. I really do.


KING: When we come back, Uncle Miltie on his trademark cigars.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, someone is coming. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) coming to collect the mortgage!


BERLE: I have you in my power! Tyrone (ph), I have you in my power! You pay the mortgage, or I want your hand in marriage!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't have my hand in marriage, I'm in love with Handsome Harry.

BERLE: Little does she know I play that part too.



KING: Milton Berle was famous, some would say infamous, for performing in drag. And we talked about that back in 1986.


BERLE: I wanted to be a female impersonator, until a guy ran me up in an alley.

But it doesn't stem from me. It stems from the mask and wig shows where the males dressed up as women.

It stems from the great female impersonators back to Julian Elton (ph), Francis Renault (ph), Carl Lum (ph). I wasn't the first one to do it. Maybe I was the first one to do it on television.

But I didn't play it, you know, I played it like a woman. And I guess it's just because, instead of be calling the king, I should have been called the queen -- is that what you're trying to say?

KING: Why do you think, Miltie, we like that so much?

BERLE: I don't know. I think it's -- it looks kind of ridiculous, and I look kind of ugly.

And when I go -- and all that stuff, you know, right, ...

KING: But you did that. You may have been the champion of the drag impersonators. I mean, you had it down.

BERLE: Well, I had to do, well the expertise of doing it is the, playing in vaudeville in places like Washington, where you are.

And I wore drag in those days, too.

KING: We go to Ironton, Ohio with Milton Berle. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I enjoy your show very much.

KING: Thank you.

BERLE: Are you the one? CALLER: Mr. Berle, it's a great pleasure to be speaking with one of the greatest comedic talents, and also admire your work in drama. Also, you're a fine actor.

KING: Sure is.

BERLE: Well, thank you very much.

CALLER: And my question is, you've gotten a lot of mileage out of the image of being a stealer of other people's material.

And I'd like to know how that originated and how you've cultivated that over the years.

BERLE: Well, that's really ...

KING: Good question.

BERLE: ... that's really not the truth. I don't steal people's jokes. I ...

KING: Yeah, but how did that start? That whole ...

BERLE: ... want to say this, Larry. I don't steal people's -- I just find them before they're lost, that's it.

KING: No, how did that start?

BERLE: It started -- it's quite a long story -- but Winchell was the one that gave me the name, the Thief of Bad Gags.

It started back in 1931 when we had a comedian around by the name of Richie Craig (ph). And he was very, very talented.

And we were sitting in a restaurant and I had bought an overcoat. And I walked in and I saw him sitting there wearing the same coat.

And I said, gee, that son of a gun, the tailor -- Ben Aronk (ph) if I recall -- said that this was an original.

And he said, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we're wearing the same -- the next thing you know, you'll be taking my own material.

And I said, hey, I got an idea.

And at that time, speaking of this gentleman, and to you, Larry, at that time there was a great feud between Fred Allen and Jack Benny ...

KING: Right.

BERLE: ... on radio. And then, well, one between Walter Winchell and -- who -- Dan Burnie (ph).

And so, I sat in the back of the restaurant. I said, hey, let's get some publicity. Let's say I stole your jokes, you stole my jokes. And that's the way it happened.


BERLE: And we lost Richie. And I was -- nobody around to vindicate (ph) it. But it didn't hurt me, it helped me.


BERLE: Sachmo, I want to tell you something, whenever I hear you, whenever I hear you sing, I get a great feeling of your great talent, and whenever I hear you blow the trumpet, you were born -- well, I mean, you're the top, you're really the young man with a horn.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: Thank you, thank you. And you are my favorite, and you're the young man with the corn (ph).

BERLE: If I knew it was going to get such a big laugh, I would have given it to myself.






KING: In 1996, Milton Berle joined us to help celebrate his 88th birthday.

Uncle Miltie was smoking -- literally.


KING: Most people don't smoke on television anymore, but we allow you to.

BERLE: Oh, really?

KING: Yes.

BERLE: This is for nothing, of course.

KING: That's right.

Eighty-eight years old.

BERLE: Yes, I'm 88. What about it, baby?

KING: When did you begin smoking? How old were you when you lit your first cigar?

BERLE: Someone had lit it for me. I was 12 years old. Twelve years old. So how long am I smoking?

KING: Seventy-six years.

BERLE: You're right. That's the spirit.

KING: But you never smoked cigarettes.

BERLE: Never smoked ...

KING: Never.


KING: Never took a drink. Never liked ...

BERLE: Well, I'm a teetotaler. I don't know what beer tastes like.

KING: Why cigars?

BERLE: Why? Because -- I don't know why.

I think -- I'll tell you what you happened. I went to Cuba on a cruise, and they were selling cigars as we were going through the Nacional Hotel. And I had my mother with me.

And mom was, had me by the hand. And I -- they said, "Cigare! Cigare!" And I took it and I lit it.

My mother grabbed it and whacked me. And I said, "Mama, what are you doing?"

And she says, "How dare you!"

And ...

KING: You liked ...

BERLE: ... I liked the taste of the cigar.

And I'm -- thank goodness, because I never smoked a cigarette. I hate cigarettes. And they're not good for you because of the tar and all that.

KING: Cigars can't be great for you. It's tobacco.

BERLE: Well, no, no, now, it's a different -- but you don't inhale cigars. I'm not telling you to go to hale. I'm just saying, ...

KING: OK. Well, I don't want to warn you, Milton, but I'm telling you. I think if you smoke cigars, you will not live to a ripe old age.

That's just -- I don't want to scare you. BERLE: Nice try. Nice try, nice try.

KING: All right. Nice try.

BERLE: I want to say something.

KING: Tell ...

BERLE: You know, where I live, unfortunately, I don't get your program. I ...

KING: Well, where do you live?

BERLE: ... no, I see it, but I don't get it.

But what I'm trying to say is, you're wishing me a happy birthday, and I'm very, very happy to see it.

KING: I'm honored to be in your presence.

BERLE: And you're going to be at my party tonight.

KING: I'll be at your party. I'll do anything you want, Milton. Well, within reason.

BERLE: What do you mean by ...

KING: Why -- Steve and Edie are showing -- what do you do at an 88th birthday party? What ...

BERLE: I don't know.

KING: ... kind of laughs do you get? What do you play?

BERLE: No, no ...

KING: Spin the bottle? What do they do?

BERLE: Did you interview -- well, let me talk.

KING: I'm asking you. What kind of ...

BERLE: Well shut your big mouth, ...

KING: All right.

BERLE: ... would you please?


BERLE: You're a pain. No you're not. I love you.

KING: I love you, too.

BERLE: Steve and Edie are going to be the hosts of the party for me for my 88th, because I know them a long time. And it's going to be held at Alfred Dunhill's. Now you ...

KING: The tobacconist.

BERLE: Well, that's my tobacconist. It's been my tobacconist for 60 years. And it's going to be so cozy and wonderful.

KING: And you deserve it. Let me ask you a question about cigars.

BERLE: Yes, sir.

KING: Why are the Cuban cigars the best?

BERLE: Well, I think it's because ...

KING: A serious question.

BERLE: ... of the, of the planting of the fertilizer.

KING: Are they the best?

BERLE: I think they are. Unfortunately, you can't get them, because they're banned.

KING: You can't get them, Milton?

BERLE: Oh, I can get them, but I don't to. I won't get them. I'm an American. I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say, I will not get ...

KING: You will not smoke ...

BERLE: Oh, no. This is not a Cuban cigar. Oh, pardon me.


BERLE: I thought I was taller.

KING: ... it smells pretty good.

I thought it was still -- that was funny. Why does it smell so good?

BERLE: Because I'm smoking it, that's why.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you. All right. You bid on your own thing. You gave ...

BERLE: What are you talking about?

KING: ... John F. Kennedy a -- I'm talking about the humidor. See, ...

BERLE: Oh, yeah.

KING: ... it's a cigar transition.

BERLE: Oh, well, good, good.

KING: You gave John F. ...

BERLE: Good blend.

KING: You gave ...

BERLE: Go ahead.

KING: Good. You gave John F. Kennedy a humidor.

BERLE: Right.

KING: For -- it cost you what when you bought it for him?

BERLE: Oh, ...

KING: Nothing. Six hundred dollars, right?

BERLE: ... about $600, $700. I had it made.

KING: Had it made, his initials on it and everything.

BERLE: Well, it's to JFK. Happy smoking, long live. Milton Berle. And that was the date, 1961.

KING: And now ...

BERLE: It was -- inauguration. It was '62, I think.

KING: And now 36, five years later, you're bidding on it, after it naturally, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

BERLE: Oh, then you must have listened and watched the program.

KING: Yes. You ...


KING: ... have to what?

BERLE: Well, I went up to $160,000 for the humidor to get it back. But when I was going to get it back, I was going to give it back to JFK, the ...

KING: Who?

BERLE: ... to the ...

KING: The estate? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

BERLE: ... estate, and return it to him. But I was outbid.

KING: What was it like to be bidding? You realize, I know you're ...

BERLE: Well, after paying -- I know what you mean -- after paying ...

KING: Six hundred.

BERLE: ... maybe $600 for it, and it went for five, over $594,000, I said, gee, maybe I should have kept it.

No, but I'm kidding. But no one ever knew that JFK smoked cigars. The only one who knew was me.

KING: An occasional picture. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lit (ph) once on a boat in Hyannis Port, I think, but you never saw him smoke.

BERLE: I, no, never saw him smoke.

KING: You knew he smoked cigars.

BERLE: Sure, I did.


JOHN F. KENNEDY: Not bad for NBC.



KING: Now, you're married to a much younger woman, Milton. Lorna is, after all, 37 years younger than you.

What ...

BERLE: Add that up.

KING: Fifty-one from 88. That's ...

BERLE: That's what I said. She's 51.

KING: What makes it a successful marriage?

BERLE: Well, she's very devoted. And I'm very devoted to her. And I adore her.

And she does everything she can to make me happy. And she -- and it happens.

And while we're talking about Lorna, my beautiful, my wonderful, she's a grandmother. Did you ever know that?


BERLE: She has six grandchildren. And I have three grandchildren -- now I'll get this thing right from the last program -- and I know their names. And ...

KING: Because the last time you were mentioning names.

BERLE: ... they don't understand what I'm talking about, but ...

KING: I'll explain it.

BERLE: You don't have to ...

KING: Never mind.

BERLE: ... you have no time. And I've become a great- grandfather, through my daughter Vicki (ph), who is coming in from Seattle for the party.

KING: For the party.

BERLE: And my son Billy will be here, too.

KING: How did -- you and Lorna know each other a long time?

BERLE: Well, we have an anniversary coming up, which is December 25th.

KING: You got married on Christmas Day.

BERLE: No, the 26th, I think, December 26th. And, a funny thing, we got married. And that's also the day of her birthday.

So she said to me, you screwed me out of two presents, or, an extra present.

But we've been very happy. And she's really a terrific woman.

And I'll never forget our honeymoon night. Would you like to hear ...

KING: Tell about it.

BERLE: OK, I will. I said to her, I said, Lorna, this is our honeymoon night. Bring something black and sexy.

So she brought Sidney Poitier.

But at my age -- I mean, I'm 88 and she's 51 or something. And, you believe it or not, but we make love almost every day in the week.

Almost Monday, almost Tuesday.

I'll tell you, about three months -- Larry, look at me when I'm talking.

KING: Yes, I was about ...

BERLE: Three months ago, believe it or not, we made love one night for an hour and three minutes.

KING: How did you time it?

BERLE: Well, that was the night they turned the clocks back. Bah-dah-boom.

KING: But that was very good ...

BERLE: Rim shot.

KING: You're on a roll.

BERLE: Yeah.

KING: All right. Now I'm going to ask you something that we've never discussed, yet is worthy of discussion -- your prowess as a lover has been famous in Hollywood. It's been talked about for years. Sinatra speaks of you with reverence.

BERLE: Here we go again.

KING: Were you and are you a great lover?

Were all these stories true?

BERLE: Put the was first. I was.

KING: You was. No longer.

BERLE: I don't -- I don't know if I am (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I was married to a young woman. I make her very happy.

KING: OK. All right. In the heyday of Milton Berle, ...

BERLE: While I'm in the hay during the day?

KING: No, in the ...


KING: ... back there then, when you was and we wasn't, were you?

BERLE: Did I accomplish quite a lot?

KING: Were you ...

BERLE: I've lived a very big, long life. Never (ph) a (ph) speedy ...

KING: Are you the Valentino of your time, in a sense?

BERLE: Well, why you're talking about Valentino, ...

KING: No, don't tell me.

BERLE: Well, you know about Pola Negra, don't you? She was -- he was ...

KING: That was his wife, right, or his lover.

BERLE: Lover. I don't know if you know that I went with her for about a year after he died.

KING: You went with the ...

BERLE: Pola Negra.

KING: ... lover of Rudolf Valentino?

BERLE: Yeah.

KING: Well, the obvious question -- did she tell you ...

BERLE: About Valentino?

KING: No. Did she compare you and him?

BERLE: I don't think she had to.

KING: How do you mean that, Milt?

BERLE: I'm not telling.

KING: Milt, what does 88 feel like?

I mean, we all hope to make it. Everyone prays that -- anyone would take 88 ...

BERLE: Well, I never felt better than I do today, because I'm happy, I'm relieved of all the turmoil and strife and hard work that I put in before, during my career.

But I live to laugh and I laugh to live. And that's -- I've never felt better in my life.

KING: And you still keep on keeping on, right. I mean, you're still (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

BERLE: Oh, there's no retiring. I said to George Burns, remember I said to George Burns, when are you going to retire?

And he looked at me, he said, to what?

Same thing with me. Where am I going?

KING: In our waning moments, through your millions of fans on your 88th birthday on this earth?

BERLE: Well, I just -- I have -- I'm usually asked this question what is my wish on my 88th birthday? Well, I only hope that I will keep healthy, keep people laughing, which has been my bag for years. And one other thing, which is very distant to this question that we're in world today of fury and a mixed-up world. I only I -- I only hope to live to see such things happening, such that are more peaceful unity with the world. That's my one wish.

KING: Are you optimistic?

BERLE: Yes, I am optimistic because it's about time. And I think it's coming. And I think there's going to be a lot of harmony.

KING: What troubles you at 88? Anything worry -- what's your biggest worry, I mean, other world events and stuff? What's your biggest personal worry?

BERLE: I really have no personal worries, really. I've got everything that I need, everything that I want. I have good friends.

KING: You sure do.

BERLE: Like you. And I mean that sincerely without any schtick here. And I like to be among people that like to laugh, like to have fun, and want to be themselves. And why should they be?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get to London, are you going to get an audience with the king?

BERLE: I might as well, I'm losing this one I think. Right now, my darling, it's getting late. Supposed to play tennis with Lord Hamintosh.


BERLE: He's a cheap duck, a cheap duck. You know what he did?


BERLE: Yes. He bought the cheapest groceries and he thought it didn't matter. His wife is really patient, not a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) did she utter. But she fed him tender waffles with the effervescent butter with some bit of living pita, but he bought a better bottle.




BERLE: Elvis, if I did that thing the same way you did it, do you think I could get all the girls the way you do?

ELVIS PRESLEY, ROCK SINGER: Well, it might not help you get girls, but at your age, it'll keep your blood circulating.


BERLE: At my age. You make me feel like a used car. My tail light may be dragging, but my battery is still charging, I'll tell you that.


KING: In 1998, Milton Berle turned 90. We looked back on his distinguished career with some distinguished guests. Joining Berle were Sid Caesar and the late Steve Allen.


KING: What is it like to be 90?

BERLE: Well, I don't feel 90.

KING: You don't look 90.

BERLE: I don't care whether I...

KING: How old you feel?

BERLE: I feel like a 20-year-old, but there's never one around. So.

KING: Well, is it a funny feeling to say...

BERLE: No, I don't feel my age. I've kept busy all the time, exercise, well not that much, but I do -- and I feel wonderful.

KING: So you don't say to yourself, 9-0?

BERLE: No, I don't. I don't go by the numbers.

KING: How old are you, Sid?


KING: Now to him, this is an old man to you or what?


BERLE: That reminds me, when he said 75, I was with George Burns, may he rest in peace, right, about a month before he passed away. And we had dinner together with my lovely wife, Lorna. And he looked at me and he said to me, "Milton, how old you?" And I said, "Oh, I don't know 84 or something." And he said -- what do you think he said to me? "Give me a glass a water, kid." That was George Burns.

STEVE ALLEN: At least he didn't say, "I've got ties older than, which is a nice thing for (UNINTELLIGIBLE)."

KING: How old are you now, Steve?

ALLEN: 76, that's the spirit.

BERLE: That's the spirit.


KING: What would you say was Berle's greatness?

CAESAR: The greatness is he does it. He gets up and does it. You know, there's a lot of people who talk it, but there's a big difference between talking and doing, because when you do something, it's the way you -- it's not what you do, it's the way that you it. And doing it is your style.

KING: That program, the "Texaco Star Theater" and the Berle thing, owned television?

CAESAR: Oh sure, that was it. That was the first really -- he showed that it could be done.

KING: You could do live, variety.

CAESAR: You could do a variety every week, every week, every week. The network didn't -- they didn't believe, you know. Well, they thought well, if you got to be a radio show, you read it and this and that. but here, this is live, you know. And you can't take it back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never mind, darling.

BERLE: What is it, darling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to get back on the script.





CAESAR: That should do it.

KING: That's sharp. Steve, what was his -- the greatness of him in that show to you?

ALLEN: Well, there are many factors to Milton. First of all, his tremendous energy. Even now at this age, he has it. But he had -- we all had more of it when we were younger. And he didn't just enter. He burst on stage, like a crazy animal let out of a cage. And you couldn't take your eyes off him. And when he was in the scene with other people, you watched Milton.

And in fact, Milton was often even on the air -- on the stage, directing them, during the show, as well as in the rehearsal.

KING: Cursive command?

ALLEN: Yes, he did. And sometimes people have criticized Milton for saying, telling the writing men what to do and the trombone player. He's usually right. So the writing men and the trombone player should listen to his opinion.

KING: Now did it actually click right away? Was the next would have people talking about it?

BERLE: It was surprising. It was really surprising.

KING: Because you were selling TV sets, right? You're known as the man who sold more TVs.

BERLE: Well, that's the great joke that they do Berle helped sell millions of sets, because when he was on, my uncle sold his. My aunt sold hers, which is a standard joke now. But it took off like a thunderbolt. I...

KING: Do you remember it, Sid?

CAESAR: Yes. It was an innovation, you know, because everybody -- bowling was the big -- that was it, you know.

BERLE: Bowling and wrestling.

CAESAR: Bowling and wrestling.

ALLEN: And Charlie Chan.

BERLE: No, no.

KING: And Charlie Chan.

BERLE: No, before that, gorgeous George.


BERLE: And I was gorgeous, and he was George.

KING: But that show, the impact, Steve, was no one was home? I mean, no one was out.

ALLEN: Yes, that's true.

KING: 8:00 on Tuesday night, the streets were deserted.

ALLEN: There was a glamour to television itself then, which can never be recaptured. If you got Jesus Christ back and he was on TV, even that, believe it or not...

KING: Can't compare him to Berle.

ALLEN: No, but seriously, no matter what you -- in fact, the glamour splashed all over to the benefit of even people who were lousy, people who had no talent. If they were on television, they were the object of wonder.

KING: Exposed, yes.

ALLEN: Yes, they were exposed. And they were, in those days, you could do a rotten show and walk down the street. People would yell at you on the street. That never happens anymore.

KING: Does it make you feel funny, because the way you worked, compared to the way they're working now?

BERLE: Well, let me just give you one example. I was doing the Texaco show. There was such a censorship. You know about censorship, this was for NBC. So I...


BERLE: And you couldn't say hell or damn. If you recall when Desi and Lucy went on, they made them sleep in twin beds. Do you remember that?

ALLEN: That's right.

BERLE: Then when she got pregnant, they...

KING: Had to explain it.

BERLE: Had to explain it. But I'll tell you what happened one week. This little incident. I came back from Vegas because I could a hiatus for two weeks. And I played in Vegas. I didn't play there. I had some fun there. And I came back and I did my show for the Texaco show. And I knew what the don't were, what the censorship was.

So I opened my monologue by saying I'm very happy to be here. I had some crazy outfit on with backed out teeth. I looked ridiculous, but they laughed. Anyway, I come out and I said, "It's good to be back here. I just come in from Las Vegas and while I was there, I visited Hoover Darn." And I looked at the camera and I said, "I didn't say the other word." Just to spite, I did this.

Then I went on and I said, "And I flew from Newark to here on a heckicopter." Then I went like this, "I can't say the other word."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh Rick, do you still me?

BERLE: I worship the ground you walk on?


BERLE: You still own that property, don't you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh Rick, I appeal to you as a man...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I appeal to you as a man.

BERLE: You don't even appeal to you as a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take me in your arms.

BERLE: I give you exactly 20 minutes to take your hand away from there.






KING: Do you ever think when Sinatra goes, you were a great friend of his. Everybody knew him. You were a great friend.

BERLE: Very sad day.

KING: Yes, do you start to say, as Frank said to me once, "Everybody I know is dying."

BERLE: Hmm, do I ever say what?

KING: That to yourself, all my friends?

BERLE: Well, I see them go and I've lost quite a few friends. I've said it quite often. I...

KING: Does it bring you down though? Brought him down.

BERLE: It brought Frank down, yes, when he lost Jillie (ph) and all the friends says...

KING: Dino.

BERLE: And Dino and everybody. It's -- I have -- well she'll be on in a minute, I hope, Lorna. And as long as I've got Lorna with me, and the rest of my family and the rest of her family, and I'm at ease with myself of thinking how long I'm going to live.




KING: We thought it appropriate to close this tribute to Milton Berle on his 90th birthday. We'll do again in 10 years for his 100th, by having Lorna Berle, his lovely wife, join us. How did you get this lucky? Now you're a grandmother?

LORNA BERLE, MILTON BERLE'S WIFE: I have six grandchildren, yes.

KING: How did you meet Miltie?

L. BERLE: How did we meet? Well, we actually we met at a restaurant. And he had walked in with a friend. And I called the waiter over and I said, "We'd like to buy Milton Berle and his friend a drink." And the waiter came back and said, "They don't drink." And I said, "Well, then we'll buy them desert." The waiter came back a second time and said, "They don't want desert, but they'd like to join you at your table."

He came to the table, sat down. We went to my place. I was with a girlfriend and he was with his former manager. And they eventually left. And Milton sat and talked until 3:00 in the morning. And we have been together pretty much ever since. He was easy to talk to. He was charming. He was funny. He was...

KING: How did you deal with the age difference?

L. BERLE: Well, I met Milton when he was 82. And I could not believe I was dating an 82 -- I mean, you know, what am I doing -- excuse me...

KING: It's all right.

M. BERLE: Should I tell them what?

L. BERLE: What am I doing with an 82-year-old man? When I was with him, I had the best time. He made me laugh. He made me feel young. He made me feel good. This is a tough town for a woman of a certain age. You know, so I mean, I found the love of my life in an 82-year-old man. I am totally blessed.

And if you a second, I'd like to tell you how we got married. Milton had -- in 1981, Milton had planned a birthday party for me at Chasen's (ph).

M. BERLE: Yes.

L. BERLE: And he invited a couple hundred people. And he said to me, this was about five days before the birthday party, he said, "I want you to have something really special. What would you like for your birthday?" I said, "All I really want is you." He said, "Well, what are you talking about?" I said, "Well, I want to get married for my birthday." He said, "Well, I can't do that. That's in five days." And I said, "We can do it." We got married at home. There was about a dozen people there, mostly family. Then we got in the car. We drove over to Chasen's. Everybody sang happy birthday to me. Milton got up and took a microphone and said, "I want you to meet Mrs. Milton Berle."

KING: Wow.

L. BERLE: Then they wheeled out a wedding cake. It was so -- it was romantic and fun and easy.

KING: You're really good. We're going to have you back.


KING: Miltie, this is a special girl. We've only got a minute left.

M. BERLE: She's the greatest.

KING: Does she help keep you going, too? M. BERLE: Without her, I couldn't go on.

KING: So love can happen anytime?

M. BERLE: As old as you get.


KING: Milton Berle was a great friend. I'm going to miss him. Our best to Lorna and the Berle family at this very difficult time. When we come back, a tribute to Dudley Moore. Stay with us.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's dark. Really, don't be afraid.



KING: Earlier this week, Dudley Moore lost his battle with a rare brain disorder. This wonderfully hilarious actor is best known for his roles in "10" and in "Arthur." The last time we talked with Moore was back in 1990. He was on to talk about the film, "Crazy People." In it, he played an executive who took truth in advertising to a new level. This onscreen character ticked off some real live companies.


DUDLEY MOORE, ACTOR: A lot of the ads that are dreamt up by me, the character in "Crazy People," Emory Leeson, my name is, a lot of the ads are to do with sex, death and aggression. And I think they're sort of right on the nose. And I think that's probably what is upsetting certain people. The Metamucil ad is right on the ball on this.

KING: Like for example, the Metamucil ad that you conceive and are thrown to the loony bin, which becomes a hit for the product, you say what for Metamucil?

MOORE: I say, "Take Metamucil because if you go to the toilet, otherwise, you'll get cancer and die." Now that's not necessarily true, of course. And in fact, the message is -- but I mean it can be partly true. It can be partly not true, of course. There's no doubt that there's psychological implications that, you know, can rustle up physiological symptoms and so forth.

KING: What are you talking about?

MOORE: What am I talking about? I don't know, Larry. You know, I was hoping you'd just interrupt me and say, "What are you talking about?"

KING: Paramount is standing by. I thought they had the approval of all these sponsors?

MOORE: No, they don't have the approval, but I think the legal department made sure that -- I hope they made sure anyway, that these things were fairly -- they were not self-deprecatory, if that's the word. I almost didn't say it. And I think that they've been very careful about that side of things. So that the product is not necessarily tearing itself down.

Perhaps it's all in the spirit of parody and entertainment and humor. If it's dark humor, then so be it.

KING: Bradley Beach, New Jersey. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and Dudley.



CALLER: Dudley, I'd like to ask you, do people think you really have a drinking problem because in so many of your movies, you play kind of a drunk? Can they differentiate between the character and the person?

MOORE: I don't know that they can. Some people can't, it seems to me. I don't have a drinking problem. I don't certainly think that -- I mean, I think that's just pure serendipity, if you like. I mean, it's not -- I mean, you know, I could have had a drinking problem, I suppose, like anybody else. But I don't. And people don't always separate what is a stage drunk, if you like, from the real person. And I think that is sort of a little grave. Makes every film I do into a documentary. I think -- I mean, I think every actor runs the list of that.

KING: Pittsfield, Massachusetts for Dudley Moore. Hello?

CALLER: Yes, Larry. You referred to Dudley as being back recently. And I was wondering if that has been since "Arthur." And I was wondering if it's been hard for Dudley to measure up since "Arthur."

MOORE: Well, it's an interesting point. I don't think I'll ever do anything that is quite as tailored made, in many ways. You know, I loved doing "Arthur." It's a very interesting point. But you know, I've had various comings and goings, specific aspects to my career. You know, I was very high in 1960 from "Beyond the Fringe," which a review I did with two guys. And I had -- you know, I did a television series in '65 in England. I mean, up and down, up and down, all the time. So I assume that that's going to happen. And I assume that "Arthur's" going to be hard to top, sure.

KING: Yes, and then -- I mean, you -- that was -- that's hey, that's a film of a lifetime.

MOORE: Yes, it was. Then it was a script of lifetime. When I read the script, I -- you know, after 10 pages, I felt I really must do this script. It's wonderful. And it gave me great opportunity. The drunkenness was a great device, you know, to be able to express a lot of things.

KING: Sunrise, Florida for Dudley Moore? Hello?

CALLER: Hi. Dudley...


CALLER: Larry had mentioned you're talented musically, as well as acting. And I was wondering if there's anything that happened in your career to help you pursue acting more so than your musical career?

MOORE: Well, that's an interesting question because they're all interesting questions, as a matter fact, tonight. I -- at the age of 13, I was being bullied a great deal by my peers. And I suddenly decided, "I've got to, you know, stop this somehow." And I've been insufferable little prig beforehand. And I think that I decided I better make people laugh, before they laugh at me.


KING: Boy, did both he and Uncle Miltie do that. We hope you've enjoyed our tribute to these wonderful entertainers. Thanks for watching and good-night.


MOORE: Stay with me a minute and a half. You know, I hate to be alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, dating is a lonely business.

MOORE: Except for fish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I beg your pardon? Did you say except for fish?

MOORE: Yes. Fish all bathe together, although they do tend to eat one another. I often think fish must get awfully tired of seafood.





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