This biography needs additional citations for verification. (April 2021)
December 14, 1908
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||October 28, 1996 (aged 87)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California|
(m. 1933; div. 1945)
He began working in vaudeville in 1922 as the straight man for his older brother's jokes. He was a cellist, a skill he used throughout his career. By 1924, he was working in a speakeasy operated by Al Capone.
After being caught in the middle of a gunfight, Amsterdam moved to California and worked writing jokes. His enormous repertoire, and his ability to come up with a joke on any subject, earned him the nickname The Human Joke Machine. He sometimes performed with a mock machine on his chest, hanging by a strap. He turned a hand crank and paper rolled out; he would then pretend to read the machine's joke, although actually the paper was blank.
Amsterdam's reputation for humor preceded him. Hal Block tells of Amsterdam walking up Sixth Avenue in New York City and meeting an old friend. "Where have you been?" the friend asked. "Sick," Amsterdam replied, "I've been in bed with a cold." His friend looked at him and asked, "What's so funny about that?"
Amsterdam had a program on CBS that ended in early 1949.
In 1950, he briefly hosted the comedy-variety show Broadway Open House, TV's first late-night entertainment show, on NBC. One of the pioneering TV creations of NBC president Pat Weaver, it demonstrated the potential for late-night programming and led to the later development of The Tonight Show.
In February 1952, Amsterdam made his dramatic TV debut on an episode of the DuMont Television Network series Not for Publication. Also in 1952, he was host of Breakfast With Music, a 9 a.m. Monday-Friday program on WNBT-TV in New York City.
In 1958, he appeared as saloon manager Lucien Bellingham in an episode of the CBS western series Have Gun, Will Travel entitled "The Moor's Revenge". He later guest-starred on the CBS sitcom Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan and Cara Williams.
The show's creator, Carl Reiner, based the character on his old friend Mel Brooks, with whom he worked on the writing staff of Your Show of Shows. Like Amsterdam himself, Buddy had a ready quip for any situation, and one of the show's most popular running gags was his insult-laden feud with producer Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon). Buddy was also one of the rare overtly Jewish characters on TV in that era, with one episode revolving around his belated decision to have a Bar Mitzvah. Amsterdam also wrote lyrics for the show's theme song, which were never heard on the air, but have been performed by Dick Van Dyke in concert. Van Dyke sang those lyrics on the October 23, 2010 edition of the NPR show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.
In a 1970 (November) episode of The Partridge Family, titled "Did You Hear the One About Danny Partridge?", Amsterdam played the role of Ziggy Shnurr, a small time joke writer, whom Danny found in the Yellow Pages after deciding that the family music act needed some comedy during song breaks. The Amsterdam role echoed his Dick Van Dyke character. The episode also guested Hollywood veteran Jackie Coogan.
In 1980 (November) episode of The Littlest Hobo titled "Fast Freddie" The Hobo discovers a con man (Amsterdam) operating in a small town and tries to foil his plans to rob a doddering senior.
Amsterdam was an occasional panelist on Match Game and the short-lived Can You Top This? (which he also executive produced) during the 1970s. He appeared as a small-time criminal in several episodes of the soap opera The Young and the Restless in the 1990s. Amsterdam and Rose Marie later appeared as panelists on The Hollywood Squares and guest-starred together in a February 1996 episode of the NBC sitcom Caroline in the City (his final TV appearance).
In 1958, Amsterdam appeared in the low-budget film Machine-Gun Kelly with Charles Bronson, and he did a notable dramatic turn in the 1960 noir classic Murder, Inc. as Catskill nightclub owner Walter Sage, the first victim (according to the film) of the newly minted Murder, Incorporated.
Amsterdam played Cappy, owner of the local nightclub, in the Beach Party movies of the 1960s, which were produced by American International Pictures, of which he was vice president. He and Rose Marie also co-starred in the 1966 film Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title, a comedy co-written and co-produced by Amsterdam. The film features Richard Deacon, their co-star on The Dick Van Dyke Show, with cameos by the show's co-producer Danny Thomas and co-star Carl Reiner. His later roles included appearances in The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (1968), Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), When Nature Calls (1985) and Side by Side (1988).
Amsterdam married actress Mabel Todd in 1933; they divorced in 1945 after twelve years of marriage. He married his second wife Kay Patrick in 1949; they remained married until his death in 1996.
In 1963, Amsterdam filed a $12,000 lawsuit against Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract; he claimed that he had been cast and signed to the role of George Jetson. Although his contract stipulated that he would be paid $500 an episode, with a guarantee of twenty-four episodes (i.e., a full season) of work, he recorded only one episode before being replaced. Several sources claimed the change had occurred as a result of sponsor conflict with Amsterdam's commitment to The Dick Van Dyke Show. The case had been closed by early 1965 and the court had ruled in favor of Hanna-Barbera.
|1936||With Love and Kisses||TV Performer||Uncredited|
|1952||Columbia Animal Cavalcade 1: Chimp-Antics\||Commentator|
|1958||Machine-Gun Kelly||Michael Fandango|
|1960||Murder, Inc.||Walter Sage|
|1963||It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World||Uncle Mike||Voice, uncredited|
|1964||Muscle Beach Party||Cappy|
|1966||Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title||Charlie Yuckapuck|
|1948–1950||The Morey Amsterdam Show||Himself|
|1953||Jimmy Hughes, Rokie Cop||Unknown role||1 episode|
|1957||The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna||Mr. Agnew||Episode: "Checkmate"|
|1957||December Bride||Herbert||Episode: "Mountain Climbing"|
|1957||The O. Henry Playhouse||Phineas C. Gooch, Manny Stettner||3 episodes|
|1957||How to Marry a Millionaire||Jack Connors||Episode: "The Three Pretenders"|
|1957||Matinee Theatre||Unknown role||2 episodes|
|1967–1963||The Danny Thomas Show||Buddy Sorrell, Mr. Simmons||2 episodes|
|1958||The Adventures of Jim Bowie||Pinky||Episode: "Choctaw Honor"|
|1958||Gunsmoke||Cicero Grimes||Episode: "Joe Phy"|
|1958||Schlitz Playhouse||Mr. Braxton||Episode: "T Shot a Powler"|
|1958||Dragnet||Unknown role||Episode: "The Big Ruthie"|
|1958||The Phil Silvers Show||Harry Harris||Episode: "Bilko's Giveaway"|
|1958||Have Gun - Will Travel||Lucien Bellingham||Episode: "The Moor's Revenge"|
|1959||The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen||J.C. Smith||Episode: "Dance Into Death"|
|1961||Pete and Gladys||Fred||Episode: "Gladys Rents the House"|
|1961–1966||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Buddy Sorrell||158 episodes|
|1962||Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol||Brady, James (voices)||Television film|
|1964||The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo||Unknown role (voice)||Unknown epsiodes|
|1966||Daktari||Sammy Spotts||Episode: "The Chimp Who Cried Wolf"|
|1967||Black, Kloke & Dagga||Dagge (voice)||Television short|
|1968||That's Life||Unknown role||Episode: "Life in Suburbia"|
|1969–1973||Love, American Style||Bodkin||2 episodes|
|1970||The Partridge Family||Ziggy Shnurr||Episode: "Did You Hear the One About Danny Partridge"|
|1971||Adam-12||Jerry Mermaid||Episode: "Log 106: Post Time"|
|1972||Honeymoon Suite||Bellboy||Unknown episode|
|1976||Rudolph's Shiny New Year||One Million (O.M) (voice)||Television film|
|1977||Mixed Nuts||Moe||Television film|
|1977||Alice||Herman||Episode: "Alice by Moonlight"|
|1978–1982||The Love Boat||Floyd Loomis, Moe Price||2 episodes|
|1979||Sooner or Later||Eddie Nova||Television film|
|1979||Project U.F.O.||Ollie Hayes||Episode: Sighting 4026: The Atlantic Queen Incident"|
|1980||The Littlest Hobo||Freddie Tewksbur||Episode: "Fast Freddie"|
|1983||Fantasy Island||Jake||Episode "King of Burlesque/Death Ganmes"|
|1983||Believe You Can... And You Can!||J. Fauntenoy Chiffenrobe||Television film|
|1985||Hail to the Chief||Manny||1 episode|
|1985||Brothers||Mr. Bobo||Episode: "A Greasepaint Smile"|
|1986||Crazy Like a Fox||Mr. Margus||Episode: "A Fox at the Races"|
|1988||Side by Side||Moe||Television film|
|1990||The Young and the Restless||Morey||5 episodes|
|1993||1st & Ten||Joe||Episode: "If I Didn't Play Football"|
|1993||Herman's Head||Buddy||Episode: "When Hairy Met Hermy:|
|1995||Cybill||Man in Nursing Home||Episode: "See Jeff Jump, Jump, Jeff, Jump!"|
|1996||Caroline in the City||Vic Stansky||Episode: "Caroline and the Watch"|
- Hollywood Hobbies (1939)
- Kid Dynamite (1943) (additional dialogue)
- The Ghost and the Guest (1943) (screenplay)
- Bowery Champs (1944) (additional dialogue)
- The Morey Amsterdam Show (1948–1950) (3 episodes)
- Columbia Animal Cavalcade 1: Chimp-Antics (1952) (narrative)
- Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966) (screenplay)
- The Morey Amsterdam Show (1949–1950) (2 episodes)
- Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966)
- Black, Kloke & Dagga (1967) (uncredited)
- Can You Top This (1970–1971) (46 episodes)
- Keep Laughing. Citadel Press, 1959. ASIN B0007E665M
- Morey Amsterdam's Benny Cooker Crock Book for Drinkers. Regnery, 1977. ISBN 0-8092-8138-4
- Stout, David (October 30, 1996). "Morey Amsterdam, Comedian And Joke Encyclopedia, Dies". The New York Times. p. D 22. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
- Some biographies list him as born in San Francisco because his father was a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony.
- Block, Hal (October 18, 1950). "A Comic's Life Isn't Funny". The Milwaukee Journal (republished from Collier's). p. M24.
- "CBS-TV Dropping Morey Amsterdam". Variety. February 9, 1949. p. 29. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
- McNeil, Alex. Total Television: a Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Penguin, 1985.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 866. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- "Breakfast With Music". Ross Reports on Television including The Television Index. October 12, 1952. p. 11. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
- Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book (3 ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-1-56976-839-6.
- Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book (3 ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-1-56976-839-6.
- Available as transcript and audio WWDTM 10-23-10, npr.org; accessed January 8, 2018.
- Oliver, Myrna (October 29, 1996). "From the Archives: Morey Amsterdam; 'Buddy' on 'Dick Van Dyke Show'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
- "The Forgotten Mabel Todd: Morey Amsterdam's Lost Wife". thelifeandtimesofhollywood. January 17, 2017. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
- Yowp (January 27, 2010). "Yowp: Meet George Jetson — The Other One". Yowpyowp.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- Nesteroff, Kliph (October 26, 2013). "Classic Television Showbiz: An Interview with Pat Carroll – Part Two". Classicshowbiz.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- The Evening Sentinel, June 1, 1962, Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll have been forced off as "voice" stars of ABC's new animated "The Jetsons" cartoon series. Too many sponsor conflicts, what with Morey being a regular on the Dick Van Dyke Show and Pat likewise on the Danny Thomas Show.
- "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- TV Firm Sued By Two, Oxnard Press-Courier, January 25, 1965
- Vallance, Tom (November 4, 1996). "Obituary: Morey Amsterdam". The Independent. Retrieved September 29, 2021.