Morey Amsterdam

Born in Chicago, Morey started in Vaudeville, at the age of 14, as a straight man for his piano playing brother. His father, a concert violinist who worked with the Chicago Opera and the San Francisco Symphony, wanted Morey to pursue a career in classical music.

But Morey had other plans and by the time that he was 16, he was working at a Chicago speakeasy owned by Al Brown - better known as Al Capone. When Morey was caught in the middle of a shootout, he decided to seek out safer bookings. He moved west to California where he became a writer and gag man for such stars as Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante and Will Rogers. Morey would become known as the "Human Joke Machine" because he could tell a joke about any subject on request. In the 30's and 40's, Morey was on the radio where his humor brought him fame and notoriety. Morey was also a songwriter and some of his best known songs were "Why Oh Why Did I Ever Leave Wyoming" and "Rum and Coca-Cola". By 1947, Amsterdam had three different daily radio shows and comedian Fred Allen said "The only thing I can turn on without getting Amsterdam is the faucet".

His first TV appearance started as a radio show and was called "Stop Me If You've Heard This One (1948)". That same year he hosted his own variety show, "The Morey Amsterdam Show", which ran until 1950. Morey was the host for the talk show, "Broadway Open House (1950)", the precursor to NBC's The Tonight Show.

His fame would come with his role as Buddy Sorrell in "The Dick Van Dyke Show". For Morey, who was reportedly able to recall up to 100,000 jokes, it was the role of a lifetime. After the show ended in 1966, Morey continued to play nightclub dates and make TV guest-star appearances on shows from "Hollywood Squares" to "Caroline in the City". His film career would consist of small roles in a number of films 'Machine Gun Kelly (1958)', 'Beach Party (1963)' and 'Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)'.

Born: December 14, 1908,
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Died: October 27, 1996,
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. (heart attack)