Biography of a Great Smoker Milton Berle

Although his popularity waned significantly in the 1970s for much of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s Milton Berle was the most famous comedian on American TV and was nicknamed Mr Television. Starring in innumerate films and television specials, Berle was equally renowned for his private life in which he enjoyed 3 marriages and endless relationships with major stars such as Marilyn Monroe.

Despite all this, many considered Berle’s great passion to be his love of cigars. So enamoured was Berle with cigars that he regularly would try and convert his Hollywood friends from cigarettes to cigars. He was regularly seen handing out boxes of cigars to his friends, old and new, at glitzy Hollywood parties.

Luckily for Berle, all three of his wives were very supportive of his smoking choices with his second wife Ruth famously traipsing around Paris for a large handbag. When shop owners enquired as to why she needed such a large handbag, Ruth replied that she needed one that would fit four of Berle’s mammoth Cuban cigars.

On another occasion, Milton and Ruth were holidaying to Rome with the former having packed 500 cigars for the trip. Upon arriving in Italy, a customs officer informed Berle that he was only allowed to bring 100 cigars into the country. Ruth then took one of the cigars and smoked it, enabling the pair to bring in an extra 100 cigars.

Milton Berle seems to be always destined for success, entering show business at the age of 5 when he won an amateur talent contest. He then went on the play child roles in a number of silent films. Berle then appeared in successful Vaudeville shows from the age of 12 before making the transition to legitimate theatre.

Not content with appearing on film and stage, Berle tried his hand as a radio presenter – regularly appearing on the comedy show, Gillette Original Community Sing. Enjoying his time in radio so much, Berle moved to cancel well-paying nightclub appearances to expand his radio career.

What followed was 30 years of almost uninterrupted success on film, stage and radio. Berle died in 2002 at the age of 93 of colon cancer. He was posthumously inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007 by Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

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