Thursday, October 15, 2015
We'll bet you didn't expect Bill Dana to be included in this list of the great Jewish comedians, but we think he deserves a place in this exclusive group.
Bill Dana, who celebrated his 91st birthday last week, was a very popular comedian in the 1960s.
He often appeared on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Steve Allen Show, and his own sitcom, The Bill Dana Show, usually as a heavily accented Bolivian character named José Jiménez. Dana often portrayed the Jiménez character as an astronaut.
Dana was born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts. He is of Hungarian-Jewish descent. He took his stage name "Dana" after his mother's first name "Dena" as he felt "Szathmary" was unpronounceable.
He occasionally incorporated a Hebrew or Yiddish word or phrase into his roles. Here's a video clip from an appearance he made with Milton Berle on The Hollywood Palace in 1965 as one the world's great authorities on karate and jiu-jitsu. Listen carefully as he inserts a phrase that will be familiar to you in the last few seconds of the clip.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)