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‘Uncle Miltie’ Turns 80, Feels 20

July 11, 1988

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Comedian Milton Berle, whose 80th birthday Tuesday will be celebrated with 200 friends, says he is healthy and feels like a 20-year-old, ″but there’s never one around.″

″It’ll just be a usual day for me,″ Berle said Monday.

His wife is throwing a bash for him Tuesday at La Cage Aux Folles, and the guest list includes Frank Sinatra, Red Buttons, Steve Allen, Danny Thomas, Sid Caesar, Jack Lemmon, Don Rickles and Gregory Peck.

″Tomorrow night I’m going to miss the All-Star (baseball) game, but I’m going to have an all-star game of my own,″ said Berle.

It was his mother, Sandra Berlinger, who bounced Baby Milton on her knee and said: ″Make me laugh.″ He’s kept the nation laughing ever since.

Beamed into America’s living rooms in 1948, Berle was host of TV’s first hit show, ″Texaco Star Theater,″ which caused power drains on Tuesday nights.

Audiences relished Berle’s brash, slapstick humor, often featuring him in women’s clothes or taking a cream pie in the face.

His vaudevillian antics endeared him to a generation of Americans and earned him the title ″Mr. Television.″ Columnist Walter Winchell called him ″The Thief of Badgags.″

″Even though I have 60 years in this business,″ said Sammy Davis Jr., ″I hope to know as much as Milton does about show business when I am 80 years old.″

Lucille Ball, looking forward to the gathering, said Monday: ″He’s really 80 years young and his contribution to the world of comedy will live forever.″

″He’s really excited about the party,″ added Ruth Berle, who has been married to the comedian since 1953.

Cakes aglow with dozens of candles and birthday wishes will be the order of the day.

Berle opens at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, N.J., on Aug. 9 with Danny Thomas and Sid Caesar. He then has performances scheduled in Las Vegas, Nev., beginning Aug. 24.

″He’s really happiest when he works on stage,″ said Mrs. Berle.

Berle underwent a heart bypass operation in 1985.

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