Silvers, Phil

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SILVERS, PHIL (Philip Silversmith ; 1911–1985), U.S. comedian. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Silvers started in vaudeville and toured for five years with the Minsky Burlesque Troupe. He began film work in 1940 and appeared on Broadway in 1947–49 in High Button Shoes. Other Broadway appearances include Yokel Boy (1939), High Kickers (1941), Top Banana (Best Actor/Musical Tony, 1952), Do Re Mi (Tony nomination, 1961), How the Other Half Loves (1971), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Best Actor/Musical Tony, 1972).

In 1955 he launched a long-running television comedy series, The Phil Silvers Show (1955–59), in which he played inveterate con artist Sergeant Ernie Bilko. Silvers won a Best Actor Emmy for the role in 1956.

His films include You're in the Army Now (1941), Roxie Hart (1942), Just Off Broadway (1942), Cover Girl (1944), Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), Something for the Boys (1944), A Thousand and One Nights (1945), Summer Stock (1950), Top Banana (1954), Lucky Me (1954), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), Follow That Camel (1967), Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), The Boatniks (1970), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), The Chicken Chronicles (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978), and There Goes the Bride (1980).

Silvers' two books, which he co-wrote with Robert Saffron, were published in 1973: This Laugh Is on Me: The Phil Silvers Story and The Man Who Was Bilko: The Autobiography of Phil Silvers.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]