Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Ben Blue (1901-1975) was a Canadian-American actor and comedian. Born to a Jewish family as Benjamin Bernstein in Montreal, Quebec, Blue emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of nine, where he won a contest for the best impersonation of Charlie Chaplin.
At the age of fifteen he was in a touring company and later became a stage manager and assistant general manager. He became a dance instructor and nightclub proprietor. In the 1920s Blue joined a popular orchestra, Jack White and His Montrealers.
Blue left the band to establish himself as a solo comedian, portraying a bald-headed dumb-bell with a goofy expression. Producer Hal Roach featured him in his "Taxi Boys" comedy shorts, but Blue's dopey character was an acquired taste and he was soon replaced by other comedians.
In 1951, Blue began concentrating on managing and appearing in nightclubs in Hollywood, San Francisco, and Reno. Blue and Maxie Rosenbloom owned and performed in Hollywood's top nightclub in the 1940s called "Slapsie Maxie's." In the 1960s he opened a nightclub in Santa Monica, California, called "Ben Blue's". It quickly became the "in" place and night after night was packed with top celebrities. Ben closed the club three years later because of health problems. He also made appearances in TV shows such as The Jack Benny Program and The Milton Berle Show.
Blue's film roles included many cameo appearances. In It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), his role was the pilot of the biplane that flew Sid Caesar and Edie Adams, and he played Luther Grilk, the town drunk, in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). His other film appearances included small roles in The Busy Body (1967), A Guide for the Married Man (1967) and Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968).
Here's Ben Blue in one of his pantomime skits on the Hollywood Palace TV show 50 years ago (January 1, 1966).
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