OOH! OOH! It's Joe E. Ross!

New York City's East Side, March 15 1914: American funnyman, Joe E. "Ooh! Ooh!" Ross, (born Joseph Roszawikz) makes his first appearance on the world stage. His parents came to the United States from Europe in 1902. His Italy-born father, Thomas, was a barber. His Hungary-born mother, Emma, was a dressmaker. He had two sisters Josephine and Ruth.

Plump Joey, all five feet, six inches of him, left Seward Park High School at the age of 16 to become a singing waiter at the Van Cortlandt Inn in the Bronx. He remembered, "I dropped so many plates that they made me go into burlesque!"

When the cafe added some girl dancers to the bill he was promoted to announcer and then he began to bring a new funny side to his act, adding some jokes and so the natural course for him was to became a comedian. Eventually he was lured into the glitter house circuit of vaudeville houses when he was 17.

"I used to sing heartbreaking songs to the hoodlums. They'd cry in their beer. With a voice like mine, I guess I was lucky they didn't shoot me." Joey recollected.

In 1938, he appeared at the Queens Terrace, near Jackson Heights, New York. Jackie Gleason had already been playing there for 16 weeks, and the manager was about to ask Gleason to stay a while longer. Joey heard of the opening, auditioned for it, got the contract, and also stayed the full 16 weeks. He then turned burlesque comic on the Chicago-based Schuster circuit known to the trade as The Western Wheel.

Later Joey would say, "Burlesque taught me more about acting those eight and ten-minute skits -- than I've ever picked up in my night work.”


​His career was interrupted by World War II. Where he served in the Air Corps and was sent to England.​ After completing his duty he took up his stand as an announcer-comic.
  1. New Comedy Discovery!
    New Comedy Discovery!
  1. Miami - January 1944.
    Miami - January 1944.
  2. New York - February 1945.
    New York - February 1945.
  3. Detroit - March 1945.
    Detroit - March 1945.
  4. Philadelphia - May 1945.
    Philadelphia - May 1945.
October 1945 he was off to Chicago appearing in a new show at the Colosimos.  The other featured acts were, old Joe Sanders and his orchestra, Arthur Nelson, puppeteer; Ted and Danny Peters, dance team; and the Jordan duo, skating team.
  1. Miami - December 1945. Starring Joe E. - his gags are pure raw beafsteak - but his songs are smooth and torchy in a masculine way.
    Miami - December 1945. Starring Joe E. - his gags are pure raw beafsteak - but his songs are smooth and torchy in a masculine way.
  2. Miami - April 1946. With clyclonic Patsy Shaw.
    Miami - April 1946. With clyclonic Patsy Shaw.
  3. Miami - May 1946. Still multi-popular!
    Miami - May 1946. Still multi-popular!
  4. Miami - May 23 1946.
    Miami - May 23 1946.
  5. Miami - June 1946. Back in the sunny city of Miami with a stint as MC and comic at the Club Bali.
    Miami - June 1946. Back in the sunny city of Miami with a stint as MC and comic at the Club Bali.
He took the laugh spot across the board with ease. Of course, he had toned down his more robust stuff to fit in with the club's policy but he still had racing form drive. His best bits were not his individual gags but the continuity material.

Track stories are always sure fire winners in this area. He had stock wisecracks but supplemented them with sidelights, like as the horse-minded waiter who called the courses like a sports announcer at Hialeh.  "Steak is scratched. Chicken bouillion coming up fast on the outside........"

His "tough jernt" sketch was rich in  characterization from real life; the poker game satire was a winning deal. This went for the Joe E. Lewis take-offs in his own husky voice, too. Joey now had the makings of a top rung comedian. When he gets more and varied material, watch this grown-up  Dead End Kid advance!
Joey expounded with his husky bark on the reason why he thought so many comedians and singers developed on the East Side of New York.

"Y'see, kids in the East Side have a lot of space to play in. Their families were too poor to pack 'em off to camps and places in the country, and there wuzn't a lot of civic welfare goin' on there until the last ten years. So us kids usta spend a lotta time hangin' around theaters."

And the hangout you like most of all?

"Huh! That's a pipe. I lived on the same street as the old Loew's theater. DeLancey Street. The whole gang of us usta go to all the variety shows. We'd go early, stay late. By the time we'd seen three or four shows we memorized lines. Boy! Did the comedians hate us! We usta yell all the answers an' comebacks an' punchlines before the guys hadda chance. We'd heckle 'em too. I guess kids still do that. I'd sure hate to go back at some of the spots and go through what actors hadda suffer when I was a fresh kid."

Joe E. didn't like hecklers.

"I like attentive audiences. Sure I know all the stock barbs to throw back, but I hate t' do it. I ad-lib now and then but when I'm doin' my routine I put myself in a good mood an' I don't like gettin' jarred out of it. Now for example, take Lana Turner. Like this, see!"

He stood up, threw back his head and closed his eyes. His big hands were held palm out.

"Ah, I remember you, Lana." He whispered.

He stood there a living picture of wishful thinking. A Yogi would've been pleased with the demonstration. It looked like self hypnosis. Suddenly he opened his eyes.
  1. A peaceable guy.
    A peaceable guy.
"Get it? I'm sendin'. I'm in the mood. I don't want it distoibed."

What audience did Joe E. like?

"I like one that laughs at my jokes," he chortled.

He worked as a singing waiter in speakeasies but never saw a gangster fray. "The reason I didn't was because I always managed to get out a side door. Once I didn't make it, but I hid under the baby grand with my eyes shut, so I still didn't see the fight. I'm a peaceable guy."

He got his first professional break when the comedian of a burlesque road show ran away with all the loose cash and the manager's  wife. Joey stepped in as substitute wearing tramp makeup to conceal his extreme youth. He stayed with it for seven years before branching out solo. Slowly, he improved his material, got theater engagements and finally through Jack Lynch he was booked into nightclubs, which he prefered.

He admitted that his standard material wasn't the best. "Top comedy is original. I'm always on the lookout for character satire taken from life. Best stuff you can use is imitation of real people. My 'tough jernt' sketches are the McCoy. I worked in enough pieces like that you know."
  1. Philadelphia - November 1946. Palumbo's!
    Philadelphia - November 1946. Palumbo's!
  2. Philadelphia - February 1947. Nightclub entertainers in the spotlight.
    Philadelphia - February 1947. Nightclub entertainers in the spotlight.
Early March 1947: Havana Madrid. The current show at the Latin outpost, in Times Square, was headed by Aurora Roche and Carlyle with their dancing group, it went in for more production values than recent bills. The bullfight routine with its flashing display of tinted capes, and the jungle number were standouts in this ensemble work, provided a vivid backdrop for specialities by the two featured dancers. The comedy, broad vaudeville, was supplied by Joey and Bobby Byron, who pulled some easy gags.
  1. Miami - April 2 1947: Appears at Don Richards' Famous Door with his comedy assistant Bobby Byron.
    Miami - April 2 1947: Appears at Don Richards' Famous Door with his comedy assistant Bobby Byron.
  2. Miami - April 2 1947: Comedy assistant Bobby Byron. There fun-making even had Maitre d' Sam Bosky laughing. A solid recommendation as he had seen 'em all.
    Miami - April 2 1947: Comedy assistant Bobby Byron. There fun-making even had Maitre d' Sam Bosky laughing. A solid recommendation as he had seen 'em all.
April 18 1947: Opens at the Paddock Club, Miami. Specializing in comedy songs, quips and character sketches. His 'Poker' routine was the tops.
  1. Paddock club!
    Paddock club!
  2. Red Hot Dynamic Patsy Shaw!
    Red Hot Dynamic Patsy Shaw!
July 1947: Off to Ottawa, Canada to appear in the "show of the year" at the Gatineau. Billed as "America's Foremost Entertainer."
  1. Gatineau!
    Gatineau!
August: Husky-voiced Joey is back at the Paddock Club with his diamond-in-the-rough comedy.  Having everyone rollin' in the aisles until the 3rd September. Then it was off to West Palm Beach.
  1. West Palm Beach Florida and new partner.
    West Palm Beach Florida and new partner.
  2. Early December 1947 - Baltimore Club Charles. When he dropped in at the rival Chanticleer Club. Joey was eyed by one of the club operatives who heckled, "See, if you'd worked here we'd have brought you back in four weeks," "You can still do it!!" Joe E. riposted.
    Early December 1947 - Baltimore Club Charles. When he dropped in at the rival Chanticleer Club. Joey was eyed by one of the club operatives who heckled, "See, if you'd worked here we'd have brought you back in four weeks,"  "You can still do it!!"  Joe E. riposted.
  3. 19 Dec 1947 - Vineland, New Jersey - The Cove.
    19 Dec 1947 - Vineland, New Jersey - The Cove.
He then became an announcer-comic at Billy Gray's Bandbox in Los Angeles. Head- lining was Billy Gray in the featured slot. He earned high praise with his sharp-tongued delivery and likeable personality.  His material was fresh and timely and his delivery was easy. A relatively unknown here, he clicked very early on earning call-back after call-back.

Joey still loved the concept of stand-up comedy before a live audience. He would return to this medium with every chance he could get. He had a commitment to play a week in Chicago.  He drove like mad. When he got there, he ran into Joe E. Lewis, who said, "How long did it take?" "Only 64 hours." "Gee, you must have had the signals with you all the way."

In 1948 it was reported that he had passed away by some news outlets. his friend and agent, Sol Tepper got a wire and was asked to clarify the breaking story. Alarmed, he phoned the New York hotel room where Joey had based himself.  There was no answer, so upon Sol's insistence the hotel management opened the room to check. The room was empty and the bed unslept in. Later that same afternoon, Sol got a phone call from Joey ---- he demanded to know where he was and told him of the wire, Joey started to laugh uncontrollably. "Gee, Sol, I know what happened. I was working in New Orleans and laid a bomb. I spoke to the Coast and told a few guys I'd died there. They're not in show business so they must have misunderstood."

Circa 1948 Joe E. Ross and Anna Elizabeth Bodensieck were divorced in Miami, Florida. He was 34 years of age. She was 22.

6 October 1948: Headlines the Five O'Clock Club show at the Clover Club, Miami.  The Darringtons, a fine dance team, and singer Louise Martell were also on the bill. He was proving to be one of those folks you just can't help liking. Homely as the proverbial nine miles of bad road.  He was an easygoing sort of comic. An old  show business professional who knew how to get laughs with a twist - and even without a twist! Also in this month he'd appear at familiar surroundings in the shape of the Paddock Club, Miami.

Christmas is spent performing, to rollicking laughs, at the Latin Casino, Philadelphia. Alongside the Mack girls; Winn Sealy, a dancer with fast taps; singer-emcee Jack Curtis; and the Lee Henderson dancers.

For the first two weeks of February 1949 he would be back in the sunny city of Miami at the Club 22. Co-starring with comic Len E. Ross and singer Frances Deva in the featured song spot.  A new show policy of continuous entertainment had now been launched with acts performing at intervals rather than three shows a night.

Then on the 25th  it was on to the Miami Harvey Bell's Club Bali. Here proving very popular with the cafe set.

  1. Anna Elizabeth Bodensieck.
    Anna Elizabeth Bodensieck.
October came and he found himself booked at the Florentine Gardens, Los Angeles. This was in a sort of revue, floor show, vaudeville - by whatever name it was the same. Rolling-eyed Joey told stories, some fresh from the vat, others storage. But all were good for laughs even the second-run ones. L.A. liked him so much that they invited him  back in April 1950.​​

He also made an uncredited appearance, as a nightclub entertainer no less, in the movie The Sound and Fury (later renamed Try and Get Me!)

  1. Larry Potter's Supper Club - April 21 1950 - Emcee!
    Larry Potter's Supper Club - April 21 1950 - Emcee!
  2. Reaction after performing a trick in 'The Sound and the Fury'.
    Reaction after performing a trick in 'The Sound and the Fury'.
May 19 Oakland, California: Appears at ther new stage show at the Orpheum. Also taking part was the Chung Wah troupe of acrobats; Bill Hughes the ventriloquist; Ben Beri a juggler and singing group the Daydreamers. It was said by one reporter that Joey "had last visited in 1911 and his jokes seemed to prove it."

January through early March 1951 back to Miami for a stint at the Gables Club. Resident strippers accompany the acts.

March 16 - Club 22 release him out of his contract for the weekend so he could take up a more lucrative job at the Club Charles, Baltimore.

August on to Philadeplhia for another revue show. This time at the reopened Chubby's. The entire bar of which had been revamped and decorated handsomely. Also in the show was Don Cornell and Kaye Gayle a big blonde bombshell who did well with her torchy tunes.

1952: The Joan Crawford-headlining movie, This Woman is Dangerous, is released at the cinema. He had a bit part in the gangster flick as a gambler.
  1. January 1952.
    January 1952.
  2. Bakersfield, California - 28 October 1952.
    Bakersfield, California - 28 October 1952.
  3. West Palm Beach, Florida March 1953.
    West Palm Beach, Florida March 1953.
  4. Wilmington, Delaware - May 1953.
    Wilmington, Delaware - May 1953.
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May 12, 1953.
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May 12, 1953.
Early 1953 Joey guest stars alongside, Jeanine Frances, Pat Flannery, Mona Rae, Bobbie Lynn, Rosanna, and Dick Kimball at the Toddle House, Culver City, California. Also in that same year, Baltimore beckoned again, when he starred alongside LaDonna Lee at the Eddie Leonard Spa Club.

March 1954: He and singer Mickey Roselle join the Alimony Alley show in the Beachcomber's Jubilee room.  April he was to be seen at Eddie Brook's Pink Orchid (newly opened companion room to the Black Orchid).
  1. Miami - April 1954 - Pink Orchid.
    Miami - April 1954 - Pink Orchid.
  2. Miami - May 7 - at the Lombardy.
    Miami - May 7 - at the Lombardy.
  3. West Palm Beach, Florida - 14 May - Monte Cristo Hotel.
    West Palm Beach, Florida - 14 May - Monte Cristo Hotel.
May 21: Resident comedian at the Miami Algiers Hotel (Aladdin room). Also appearing was the dancers Tony and Rena; Buddy Walker emcee and the Mal Lalkin's Orchestra.

His ties to burlesque where there for all to note. Irving Klaw, of Manhattan, produced a feature-length theatrical film called Teaserama which was to be a re-creation of a burlesque show.  Also featured were a host of "artistes" numbering Tempest Storm, Betty Page, Vicki Lynn, Trudy Wayne, Cherry, Lolly Rawson, Davey Starr, Twinnie Wallen, Spanish dance team Peppe and Roccio and pianist, Don Main. The finished movie was released nationally the following year.
End of January 1955: Miami, Florida at the all new Airliner.  By March, he was on at the Biltmore Terrace hotel lounge. At the end of March he was gag telling at the Miami Clover. All the time, he was still the resident comedian at the Miami Algiers Hotel (Aladdin room).  May came and he was booked to supply the quips at the Nautilus Hotel in their Driftwood room.
  1. The new Airliner.
    The new Airliner.
  2. Nautilus.
    Nautilus.
  3. Still Resident comedian at the Miami Algiers Hotel (Aladdin room).
    Still Resident comedian at the Miami Algiers Hotel (Aladdin room).
  4. Bridgeport, Connecticut -15 Sep 1955 Bill's Castle.
    Bridgeport, Connecticut -15 Sep 1955 Bill's Castle.
  5. Camden, New Jersey - 12 Oct 1955 - Chubby's.
    Camden, New Jersey - 12 Oct 1955 - Chubby's.
  6. Wilmington, Delaware - 22 October 1955 - Club 14.
    Wilmington, Delaware - 22 October 1955 - Club 14.
  7. Troy, New York - November 1955 - The Beachcomber.
    Troy, New York - November 1955 - The Beachcomber.
  8. Miami, Florida - 7 December - Driftwood Room.
    Miami, Florida - 7 December - Driftwood Room.
Left, fresh from an appearance on Martha Raye's TV stanza. he bows into the Nautilus hotel's Driftwood Room 7 December along with Talent Scout contestant Sue Lawton. Antone and Ina and Syd Stanley and his orchestra rounded out the bill.

February 1956: Back at the Miami Biltmore Terrace. He was there for the Its Weekend Show. Billed as the 'Funny Man from Movieland'. On the 16th March he was back at the Algiers for one night only this time he was billed as 'Hollywood Funny Man'.

April 13 the Ciro's, Miami presented their "battle of the comics" entertainment policy. Apart the resident Joey and Danny Rogers, "guest comics" would appear nightly.
  1. Joey 1955.
    Joey 1955.
  1. 1956 - Battle of the Comics!
    1956 - Battle of the Comics!
  1. Top billing for two weeks at the Gatineau in Ottawa, Canada - 25 May 1956.
    Top billing for two weeks at the Gatineau in Ottawa, Canada - 25 May 1956.
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii - 15 September 1956 - Billed as "The Rich Mans Buzzy Green"
    Honolulu, Hawaii - 15 September 1956 - Billed as "The Rich Mans Buzzy Green"
In 1955 the classic comedy You'll Never Get Rich (later known as The Phil Silvers Show) came to television land. This laugh-out-loud televisual treat proved to be an enormous hit right across America. Eventually to worldwide acclaim.

But tragedy hit the show when Harry Clark (Sergeant Stanley Sowici) tragically died at a very early age. The creator, Nat Hiken now had a real problem on his hands, when he had to bring in another character to play a mess sergeant.

"I was in Miami at the Club Ciro," Joe E. later recalled, "when Nat Hiken first saw me. He was at the club with Phil Silvers when I did, amongst other things, an imitation of Wallace Beery clowning around a haberdashery, that they liked. That was when Nat decided that I would be the guy to play Sergeant Rupert Ritzik in the Bilko series."

Joey recalled, "I was working, and this guy says, 'I wan't you for my Bilko series' - I said sure call me." and then he walked away with a curvy chorus cutie.  Then three months later, whilst working at the Melody Room in Hawaii, the operator woke him at 3am with, 'New York calling Mr Joe E. Ross.' I barked down the phone, 'Who is it?' And Nat barked back, CBS Television wants to use you in my show.' I'm used to pranksters, but at 3 in the morning never! So I slammed down the phone and went back to sleep,. But the next day I received the telegram and when I read it I said, ooh ooh that guy wasn't kidding and I hurried to the airport for the beginning of my TV career." He was told to get his face the heck back to New York, for the Bilko show - and  he was that much in demand he was given the $237 plane fare.

A pretty blonde nightclub hostesss followed him all the way from Florida without any coaxing at all.

Mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzik was the face's name and since being signed up for the show Joey had seen his nightclub fee boom. Just because he was the face that Hiken couldn't forget. Strange too that he was a New Yorker. "Last year I couldn't get into the powder room at CBS --- Now they fly me 6,000 miles all because of my kisser. Who said my face was my misfortune?

Joe E. Ross just added to the Phil Silvers Show, begged director Nat Hiken not to put long words in his script. "The only long word I can pronounce," he said; "is delicatessen . . ."

He absent-mindedly went out for a coffee in his uniform, met a citizen who said, "Hiya, hero when you gettin' out of uniform?"  Joey replied, "Right after this rehearsal."

During rehearsals he kept fluffing his lines. Nat came up with a master plan, he told him to play for time by saying "Ooh! Ooh!" - and give himself that bit longer to remember his part. The rest is history, the catchphrase would stick with him throughout his career.

"I'm playing Ritzik with Phil Silvers and he starts blowing his top. He's talking as we rehearse and I'm not listening, he says, 'But I don't hear anybody.' I tell Phil. 'But I'm talking to YOU,' says Phil. 'I know you're talking to me,' I tell Phil, 'but why should I listen to you when I've read the script?' My lines come and I shout them out to the audience. I'm still thinking I'm working in night clubs and burlesque. Phil blows. I'm driving him crazy, see, and he says to me: 'Joe, you gotta learn how to LISTEN. You gotta learn how to react. You stand there and shout your lines to the audience. You're punching. And then you stand there and you don't even move a muscle when I tell you my grandmother is dying.' My answer to Phil is 'I don't move a muscle because I've read the script. I KNOW your grandmother is dying, but I'm not an actor.' Then he tells me, 'Joe, you gotta learn how to be an actor --- a reactor. You're not a stand-up comedian no more.' So I start studying how actors react and how actors act and all of a sudden I discover this Ingrid Bergman dame.  Can she listen good. So I start going from one Bergman movie to another and I watch her. In one she listens to Charles Boyer for 10 minutes. What a listener that dame is. All of a sudden I catch on and I'm listening to Phil and reacting and he says to me, 'Congratulations, Joe you're acting now. Who taught you?' I tell him, 'Ingrid Bergman' --- and he still thinks maybe I'm a little nutty.''
  1. "Is it a bet?" asks the inimitable Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko in the classic Bilko show called A Mess Sergeant Can't Win.
    "Is it a bet?" asks the inimitable Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko in the classic Bilko show called A Mess Sergeant Can't Win.
  2. The new Mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzik.
    The new Mess Sergeant Rupert Ritzik.
Joe E. Ross complains that his girl is a light drinker; "She starts drinking as soon as it gets light."

He was having his Bilko show "world premiere," so he asked thirty friends in -- but alas he had no TV set. He had them squat on the floor in the lobby of the Hotel Bryant. The hotel set faltered right at show time. Somebody handed him a pot of phoney roses pilfered from a lobby display. A call came in while the show was on. "Now? Are you kidding?" bawled the hero. After the show, he was given a big "world premiere" party at Arele's on Delaney Street Next week? "I'd like to get a 21-inch set . . . but I only have a 17-inch room," he said.

He made Ritzik memorable. The character was henpecked, dumb, and greedy, always an easy mark for Bilko's schemes. The Phil Silvers Show ended in 1959, Joey had appeared in 85 episodes.
  1. Now billed as Mess Sergeant Ritzik of the Phil Silvers Show.
    Now billed as Mess Sergeant Ritzik of the Phil Silvers Show.
"If I get the girl, you know it's a science fiction movie."
  1. Miami - June 1957 - On his Roney Plaza Vacation. With Master Sergeant George Williamson and S. Sergeant George McPhaul of the U.S. Army recruitment office.
    Miami - June 1957 - On his Roney Plaza Vacation. With Master Sergeant George Williamson and S. Sergeant George McPhaul of the U.S. Army recruitment office.
  2. Miami - June 1957 - Booked for the Nautilus again - Pity about the spelling!
    Miami - June 1957 - Booked for the Nautilus again - Pity about the spelling!
17 July: Reportedly romancing Roxanne 'The Wiggle' Arlen.

About his boyhood on New York's Lower East Side, "I was such a bad boy that my mother, summoned so often by my teacher, graduated before I did."

1958 10 May: New York - Comedian Joe E. Ross better known now as "Sergeant Ritzik" star of the popular Phil Silvers' TV show, is the featured entertainer at the annual dinner dance of the Rockland County Home Builders Association. Held at the Singer's Hotel in Spring Valley. The affair included a cocktail hour, complete catered dinner, the music of Sam Ellner and his band, and outstanding entertainment that included Mr. Ross. Immediately after this appearance Joey will head to Hollywood for another picture commitment. He has just completed a movie, Hear Me Good, co-starring with Hal March.

Miami 23 June: Off to the Americana Hotel for their Bal Masque Supper Club. On the same bill as singer Don Cornell and the dancing Pickerts. He is considered now to be as a sort of Wallace Beery (one of his impressions is of Beery). He never pretends to be a slick comic. Instead he kept to earthy material. He is the kind who got a laugh here, and another laugh there and wound up satisfying everyone.

The girlfriend complained to Joey that she never sees him. "How can that be?" he asked her. "We're on every Tuesday night."

New York March 1958: Two shapely beauties were convicted of disorderly conduct today for sipping cocktails together in the altogether, in a swanky East Side night spot.  Magistrate Hyman Bushel sentenced the pair to 30 days in the workhouse for sitting in next to nothing after shedding their wraps -- consisting of Indian blankets. He found them guilty also of using foul boisterous language when asked to wrap themselves up again and leave. But Harvey Rosen, proprietor of El-Borracho persuaded the judge to suspend the sentence and let the girls go home. There was a suspicion in some quarters that the incident was inspired by a publicity agent, but this was not confirmed. The girls were Marlene Dorsay, 33, and Charle'n Castle, also 33. Both were statuesque platinum blondes. Marlene said she is a fashion co-ordinator. Charle'n said she is in the movie business and operates her own company. "We make adventure films, we work in the jungle," said Charle'n.  They said they had a beer at the Artists Equity Association's annual masque ball last night at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The theme was "Americana-Sinerama." Then they went to El-Borracho, cozily wrapped in their blankets. That was around 2 o'clock in the morning. The girls sat down and made themselves at home, peeling off their blankets.  Customers gaped. Waiters busily scurried about trying to keep their attention on other matters. Rosen asked the girls to leave. He said they became boisterous. "GET AWAY," they shouted. Two policemen were summoned but they were unable to persuade the girls that they should put on their blankets. So the pair were taken to jail. When they appeared before Bushel, the girls denied they had done anything so terrible. "In the first place," said Marlene. "I did not peel down to nothing. I wore a bra and a long G-string." The magistrate asked, "What is a G-string?" Quick-as-a-flash Marlene quipped, "It hasn't anything to do with a musical instrument."

August: Joey eventually gets married, after an initial postponement from 4th July, to the Harper's fashion staffer, Marlene Dorsay. The venue was the Concord Hotel, upstate. They met there last summer.

Asked what the difference was between American and British strippers he quipped: "The difference is, when they work they take off their monocle too."

Now says he's given up some of his bad habits. For instance, he no longer smokes during crap games. Asked how he liked being on the show he said, "It's ok, but I'm not too crazy about that Army pay."

Nightclub appearances continued; Saxony Hotel, Diplomat Hotel, Algiers' Aladdin Room, Chantel Noel the schedule was relentless.

He appeared in an episode of Goodyear Theater. This show was called Hello, Charlie. Here Joey played a safecracking convict who is summoned from his prison cell after a girl gets trapped in a large safe.

His new girlfriend suggests they get married, but Joey (who was now 47) stalled her with: "No, not yet. Let's wait and see if it's puppy love..."
Written on a billboard. Coming next week to the Starlite Lounge will be Joe E. Ross the Sgt. Ridzik of the Phil Silvers Show, who appears Friday and Saturday night in comedy routines.  Star of Movies, TV and all the Top Nite Spots -- This rugged, Gravel-Voiced, Actor-Comedian will have you all in absolute stitches.

Back with his old sparring partner, Phil Silvers, June 30 1960. In the Nat Hiken special, Summer in New York.

He did a turn at the Clover Club, spotting Miami policemen all over the place. His crack: "It's a pleasure to work here at the 7th Precinct!"

And the nightclubs just kept coming. He was so in demand.

1961: NBC-TV confirm Car 54, Where Are You? for its Sunday night roster next fall, starting September 17 as the replacement for the The Tab Hunter Show.

The comedy series, will star Joey and Fred Gwynne as errant New York City policemen. Produced by Nat Hiken, creator of the Sgt. Bilko comedy show.

This was a real mutt and Jeff combo. Joe E. Ross the actor who once was Ritzik, was a pear-shaped 5-feet-6. Fred is a lean 6-feet-5. Joe E. left school on the Lower Eastside at 16. Fred was a Harvard graduate who wrote and illustrated books. They are the stars of the new comedy series dreamed up by Nat Hiken. Those that have previewed the first sample said it was a riot.

Nat cast Joey as Patrolman Gunther Toody of New York's 53rd Precinct.

Fred Gwynne, another Bilko alumnus, played Toody's partner, Francis Muldoon. Of course, Toody could usually be counted on at some point to say, "Ooh! Ooh!" and his new catchphrase, "Do you mind. Do you mind!"

"I always wanted, as a kid, to be a cop, and at the age of 48 I've made it."

"It's nice going to the mail box these days, Bilko is on its second or third run around on TV and those residual checks just keep rolling in regularly." said Joey.


​So everyone, without expection, seemed to love Gunther Toody?  
  1. Florida 1960.
    Florida 1960.
"Not everyone. I got one rebuff. I heard there was a policeman here named Gunther Toody. I didn't know whether it was true or not. I found out it was true and that he drives a squad car just as I do in the series. I wanted to meet this man in the worst way; you can imagine why, since such a coincidence happens so rarely. But when I tried to get him on the phone (at the Van Nuys police station) I was told he positively did not want to meet me, that he was fed up to the teeth with all the ribbing he has taken since our show went on the air, that not only kids but his fellow cops call, 'Car 54, where are you?' when he's patrolling his squad car. I really feel bad about this. Not bad about him not wanting to meet me, but bad that he feels so bad, if you know what I mean. I'm going to try to meet this Toody fellow again. I want to be friends with him and maybe make up for the accidental coincidence that has upset his life. You know, I can't stand to have anyone hating me, whether it's my fault or not." Said Joey.
  1. Joey grins after a line Nat Hiken gave him.
    Joey grins after a line Nat Hiken gave him.
  2. Chat with some of the local the boys, during a break in filming.
    Chat with some of the local the boys, during a break in filming.
During 1962, Joey and Fred Gwynne also appeared together in The DuPont Show of the Week in the episode entitled, Seven Keys to Baldpate.

This comedy musical drama was written by the legendary Yankee Doodle Dandy, George M. Cohen.

Fred played William Hallowell Magee, a writer, holed up at an isolated place in the country, Baldpate, where he hoped to have enough peace and quiet to complete a book. Unfortunately, some very alarming characters want to use the same place for less worthy endeavors.
  1. Nightclubs now cash in with his Car 54 persona!
    Nightclubs now cash in with his Car 54 persona!
  1. Terrified trio - Joe E. Ross (Chief Kennedy), Fred Gwynne (William Hallowell Magee) and Jayne Meadows (Myra) set out to explore the mysterious Baldpate Inn.
    Terrified trio - Joe E. Ross (Chief Kennedy), Fred Gwynne (William Hallowell Magee) and Jayne Meadows (Myra) set out to explore the mysterious Baldpate Inn.
He may have been Car 54's Officer Toody onstage and off, but Gunther's new real-life wife, Jean Turner, changed her personality as often as women changed hairdos. The new Mrs Joe E. Ross, they were married February 14 1962, donned a silver-blonde wig for her part in the couple's nightclub show. "It makes me feel like a lady," the 26-year-old actress said with her face beaming.

But when she reverted to her own pixie-cut locks of dark aubern, "I act like a regular guy -- real buddy-buddy. I look like a child without my wig," she giggled. "Joe treats me like a baby. But when I wear it, he treats me older. When I was slimmer, I had platinum-blonde hair. It made me feel wonderful -- and gave me self-confidence. I think platinum hair looks better on someone nice and trim."
"I think Car 54 was built around Joe -- Toody and he were meant for each other. He thinks he is a policeman offstage."

A resident of Miami Beach, Florida Jean liked "the lazy way of living," and she thought that New York as a place to live was too "rat-racey."

When she was sixteen she enrolled in drama school "for kicks." She studied drama for five years, but agreed with her self-taught husband that "doing it" is the best school for show business.

The 5 feet 3 actress also modelled when she had the time. "I can wear absolutely anything," she beamed. "And I model shoes -- size five and a half. The demand for that size is more now, because American women's feet are getting larger."

Jean loved clothes, and liked her white toy poodle, "Martini" to match her outfits. That's right -- match! "Sometimes for Easter, I dye him lavender or pink. For St. Patrick's Day, a light green. He looks good in yellow, too." Martini also betrayed his gender by wearing painted nails!

Jean and Joey met in New York City when she did a walk-on for Car 54. "I appeared in a slip. It was the first bit of sex for the show. Some viewers wrote in, complaining."

The couple began to date and were soon married by a justice of the peace in Miami Beach. "Joe is always in a hurry," she said. "He's a down-to-earth guy. A real nut."

In one of their early "bits" together, she was so nervous that Joey had to put his arm around her for support. "I'm not nervous anymore, but he still holds me," she laughed.

​She enjoyed her comedian-husband's jokes, even those she has heard over and over. "Before I go on at the Iroquois Gardens, I stand there and laugh like crazy. Some of the crew as why. That husband of mine is still funny to me. Each time he tells one of his jokes, it's a little bit different." she said.
  1. A policeman's cap is held by actress Jean Turner.
    A policeman's cap is held by actress Jean Turner.
When the show is over here, Joey is off to New York to shoot the pilot film of a new TV series, based on the old movie, Min and Bill. Jean was off to Cincinatti to visit friends and relatives for a week or so. She was hoping her mother, Mrs Faye Ward, could come from Miami Beach too.

Joey became so identified with his policeman role that he recorded an album of songs entitled Love Songs from a Cop. Roulette Records released the LP in 1964.
He also starred as Gronk in Sherwood Schwartz's ill-fated 1966 sitcom It's About Time, which featured two 1960s American astronauts who were thrown back in time to the prehistoric era.

Could four television stars with nine series behind them get high ratings by pooling their talents? They would find out when the show hit the air. The stars were Joe E. Ross, Imogene Coca, Frank Aletter and Jack Mullaney.

It worked like this. Aletter and Mullaney are astronauts who go so far into orbit that they louse up their place in time and returned to Earth in about one million B.C. When their space capsule landed they found themselves surrounded by cave people.

Imogene and Joey are man and wife in the series, Gronk and Shad, and live in a tract cave, a strictly prehistoric pair who try to help the astronauts.

This was not a live version of the hugely successful Flintstones cartoon. These were primitive characters who ran around in bear skins with tiny clubs. Anthropologists would have been stunned to learn that cave men spoke passable English. Well nearly in the case of Joey.

His bulky frame was covered by a caveman's fur piece whose style Mr Ross described as "early Lassie."

"Listen, when I was in Car 54, every time I'd pass a grocery store I took an apple. Now people send me rocks and apples and I walk around stoned half the time," said Joey. Of his co-star winsome comedienne Imogene Coca, "We break each other up, me and Imogene, just looking at each other. She's got this clown's face, you know, with the little mouth and the big eyes. But that isn't all there is to comedy, havin' a funny face. There's lots of homely guys around who ain't funny. Whoever laughed at Raymond Massey?"

His day begins at 7am when he arises and drives to CBS-TV Studio Center, only a 12-minute trip over the hills from his home. There he has coffee and donuts for breakfast. He has lunch in the commissary. Filming is over between 7 and 8pm, when he leaves the studio, stopping en route home for dinner at one of his fave steak houses or a Chinese restaurant.

"I hope this show remains on the air for several seasons," he said. "I like the life I lead out here. But in case it doesn't it would only take me a few minutes to pack and hit the road again."
  1. As Gronk in Sherwood Schwartz's It's About Time.
    As Gronk in Sherwood Schwartz's It's About Time.
  2. Gronk kisses his wife!
    Gronk kisses his wife!
  3. After a revamping of the premise of the show they end up in the 1960s!
    After a revamping of the premise of the show they end up in the 1960s!
The series was blasted by most of the critics, ratings were impressive for the first few weeks on the air, but they soon plunged. Then it started to slide close to, but not quite into the disaster area. Creator, Sherwood Schwartz searched for a solution, since he sensed the CBS eye would soon be closing in on It's About Time. He went to the network headquarters to offer a stark proposal: Why not reverse the gimmick and put the cave people in the modern era? CBS agreed. Seven episodes were produced with this new premise before the series was cancelled at the end of the season.

1967: Joe E. Ross is divorced, lived alone and was a good prospect for matrimony.  He now has a bachelor pad in an apartment hotel on the Sunset Strip which he rents furnished. It consisted of a living room, bedroom and kitchenette. The hotel also has a swimming pool which he found convenient. Despite the fact that he was a cook on the Bilko show the kitchenette goes unused.

Because he was a one-time nightclub comedian Joey owned next to nothing but the clothes in his closet. He rented an automobile, television set and anything else he found necessary.

"I can't make a bed or clean an apartment. So I need hotel services. In show business you never know when you're going to leave town or how long a show will last, so it's best not to own anything. That's the way I like it," he said.

He was a former New Yorker who had now fallen in love with Southern California. On weekends he'd fly to Las Vegas or drove to Palm Springs. He'd lay in the sun and spend the evenings in nightclubs. Occasionally he'd be called up on stage to perform, which he did enthusiastically "just to keep in practice."

Home was a lonely place for him. He'd read the papers in the evening, watch TV and memorize lines. He'd be in bed by 11 o'clock. He had no children, no pets and few close friends. He had been dating one young lady in particular but wasn't sure if they would get married. "I'm kind of lonesome without a woman around. I was divorced, but I want to get married again some day. A man needs a wife."

Joey made special TV appearances and performed in nightclubs.  Las Vegas August 30 1968: Replaces Dick Weston at Milton Prell's Aladdin Hotel (Bagdad Theater) as the main comedy star in George Arnold's lavish "Nudes on Ice" revue.

Here he headed stellar line-ups that included singer Diane Wisdom, Jackie Gayle, singer Johnny Desmond, rising star Dodie Ruffin, former French figure skating champion Maryvonne Huet, the Hank Shank Orchestra and the world's most beautiful skating showgirls.
  1. Appearing nightly in the revue.
    Appearing nightly in the revue.
  2. Rising star Dodie Ruffin.
    Rising star Dodie Ruffin.
  3. International beauty - Among the skaters appearing were, from left, Ginny Jones from Calcutta, Ingrid Albert from East Germany and Diane Wisdom from Devon, England.
    International beauty - Among the skaters appearing were, from left, Ginny Jones from Calcutta, Ingrid Albert from East Germany and Diane Wisdom from Devon, England.
He departed the revue show in early November.

Then he had a short-lived stage act with comedy straight man Steve Rossi.  That team was billed as Steve Rossi and Joe E. Ross and they made their television debut on the Ed Sullivan show on December 15.  "Joe E. Ross and I have worked together a few times," said Rossi. "On a few occasions, Joe E. said that although, he's the comedian in the act he'd like me to do a certain comedy line which he thought would work better. He didn't mind one bit that I got the laugh as long as it strengthened the team. He's a natural, warm, lovable guy." But Joey when asked why they split - simply said, "Not the right chemistry."
  1. Rossi and Ross!
    Rossi and Ross!
In 1971 he got the call from renowned animated studio Hanna-Barbera. They wanted Joey to voice one of their characters in the new cartoon show, Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!

That character was Lionel Botch, the "harebrained assistant" to the zookeeper, Mr. Peevly.

The series followed the Hair Bear Bunch, a group of three bear cousins who live at the local Wonderland Zoo. The three bears would occasionally escape their luxurious cage to ride on their "invisible motorcycle[s]"; however, they would always return to the cage before Mr. Peevly or Lionel Botch were able to catch them.

The 16 episodes were originally broadcast by CBS from September 11, 1971 to January 8, 1972. The show is still hugely popular today.

Curiously, he also did the voice of Officer Gunther Toody for Hanna-Barbera's Car 54 cartoon spin-off that was a staple part of the animated series called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

He went on to be a prominent and very popular, even to this day, cartoon voiceover artiste. He played the stereotypical bumbling sergeant in Hong Kong Phooey (Sergeant Flint), and his gravelly tones were used on countless other toons too. He performed various voices on The New Tom & Jerry Show (1975) and his "dulcet" tones were heard when he played Roll in the 1977 series, C B Bears.
  1. Botch, right, voiced by Joey on Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch.
    Botch, right, voiced by Joey on Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch.
In the seventies he still performed in nightclubs whenever he could. He couldn't resist it!
  1. Colorado - March 8 - 1974.
    Colorado - March 8 - 1974.
  2. Van Nuys - August 2 - 1974
    Van Nuys - August 2 - 1974
  3. Galveston - December 31 - 1975.
    Galveston - December 31 - 1975.
1978 February 18, Las Vegas: At the Fremon't Lounge ,"Girls ala Carte" opened tonight with Joey topping the bill.

As busy as he was with his TV and nightclub appearances he still had time to appear in quite a few movies:​

1950: The Sound of Fury as a Nightclub Entertainer
1952: This Woman Is Dangerous as an Assistant Manager followed by Models Inc. as a Front Man
1956: Around the World in Eighty Days as an Extra
1957: Hear Me Good as Max Crane
1958: Maracaibo as Milt Karger
1960: Tall Story (1960) - as Mike followed by The Bellboy (1960) as Gangster Joey
1961: All Hands on Deck as a Bos'n
1967: Tony Rome as a bartender
1968: The Love Bug as a detective although billed as Joe E. ross in the credits
1969: Judy's Little No-No as Jose
1970: The Juggler of Notre Dame followed by The Boatniks as mad sailor
1971: The Naked Zoo as Mr. Barnum followed by Revenge Is My Destiny as Maxie Marks
1973: The Godmothers as Gino followed by Frasier, the Sensuous Lion as Kuback
1974: How to Seduce a Woman as a bartender
1975: Alias Big Cherry then Hot Neon and finally The World Through the Eyes of Children as Michael
1976: Slumber Party '57 as a patrolman
1977: The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington as a Night Watchman
1979: Gas Pump Girls followed by Skatetown, U.S.A.
1981: The Woman Inside

  1. 1969: Judy's Little No-No as Jose.
    1969: Judy's Little No-No as Jose.
  2. 1957: Hear Me Good as Max Crane.
    1957: Hear Me Good as Max Crane.
  3. 1957: Hear Me Good as Max Crane.
    1957: Hear Me Good as Max Crane.
  4. 1958: Maracaibo as Milt Karger.
    1958: Maracaibo as Milt Karger.
Joey also made numerous guest appearances on television. These included;

The Colgate Comedy Hour - Episode #2.19 (1952)
Boston Blackie - Episode: Pursuit (1953)
The Ed Sullivan Show - Episode #12.16 (1958)
Goodyear Theatre - Episode: Hello, Charlie (1959)
The Tonight Show - Episode #1.118 (1962)
Here's Hollywood - Episode #2.217 (1962)
The Jack Paar Tonight Show Episode #5.225 and Episode #2.217 (1962)
The Mike Douglas Show - Episode #3.7 (1963)
The Price Is Right - Episode dated 8 February 1963 and episode dated 2 October 1963
The Jerry Lewis Show - Flown to Hollywood and paid $2,000 to say Ooh! Ooh! on the show
That Regis Philbin Show - Episode #1.45 (1964) and episode #1.56 (1965)
Batman - Episode - The Funny Feline Felonies - Talent Agent (uncredited) (1967)
The Joey Bishop Show - Episode #2.244 (1968)
The Ed Sullivan Show - Episode #22.10 (1968)
The Red Skelton Hour - Episode - The Pied-Eyed Piper - Clancy the Cop (1968)
McMillan & Wife - Episode - The Easy Sunday Murder Case - The Doorman (1971)
Love, American Style - Episode - Love and the Cryptic Gift/Love and the Family Hour/Love and the Legend/Love and the Sexpert (segment "Love and the Sexpert") (1973)
The Ghost Busters - Episode - Jekyll & Hyde: Together, for the First Time! - Mr. Hyde (1975)
When Things Were Rotten - Episode: Quarantine - Cook (1975)
The Lost Saucer - Episode: The Tiny Years - General (1975)
The Love Boat - Episode - A Selfless Love/The Nubile Nurse/Parents Know Best - Mr. Ross (1978)

Sadly, Joe E. died of a heart attack on August 13, 1982. He was stricken while performing in the clubhouse of his apartment building in Van Nuys, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. 'He was on stage and everybody was clapping and laughing and he leaned over and said: 'Something's wrong. I don't feel good,'' his wife, Arlene, said.

He was buried in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery. On his tombstone are inscribed the words "This Man Had a Ball". He had a provision in his will that he be given a comical send-off. He got his wish, as mostly comedians attended his funeral.
Joe E. Ross was as funny in person as he was on the screen, during off-stage interviews he would clown around, making people laugh as a non-stop comedian. One of the things that stood out about him was his facial expression that made him look like the kind of person you would expect to be a comic.

He brought a lot of laughter to a troubled world, and we sure could use more of his type of comedy at this present time.

In 1968, when he appeared at the Flamingo Hotel, he was quoted as saying, "I'd like to die making people laugh."