Morey Amsterdam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Morey Amsterdam
Morey Amsterdam HA-SN-99-00637.jpg
Amsterdam in 1970
Moritz Amsterdam

(1908-12-14)December 14, 1908
DiedOctober 28, 1996(1996-10-28) (aged 87)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • writer
  • producer
Years active1922–1996
(m. 1933; div. 1945)

Kay Patrick
(m. 1949)

Moritz "Morey" Amsterdam (December 14, 1908 – October 28, 1996) was an American actor, comedian, writer and producer. He played Buddy Sorrell on CBS's The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966.[1]

Early life[edit]

Amsterdam was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of the three sons of Max and Jennie (née Finder) Amsterdam, Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary.[2]

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.[1]

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?"[3]



In the late 1940s, Amsterdam had a program on CBS from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesdays and a daily program on WMGM in New York City.[4]


Bookmark promotion for Amsterdam's late-night NBC show

Amsterdam had a program on CBS that ended in early 1949.[4]

In 1950, he briefly hosted the comedy-variety show Broadway Open House, TV's first late-night entertainment show, on NBC.[1] 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.[5]

In February 1952, Amsterdam made his dramatic TV debut on an episode of the DuMont Television Network series Not for Publication.[6] Also in 1952, he was host of Breakfast With Music, a 9 a.m. Monday-Friday program on WNBT-TV in New York City.[7]

In 1957, he appeared as "Jack Connors" in the third episode ("The Three Pretenders") of the syndicated television sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire, with Barbara Eden and Merry Anders.

Amsterdam as Buddy, in this episode the house guest of Rob and Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1962)

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.

His best-known role was as comedy writer Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show, a role suggested for him by his friend Rose Marie, who also appeared on the show.[8]

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.[9] Van Dyke sang those lyrics on the October 23, 2010 edition of the NPR show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.[10]

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).


Amsterdam's handprints in front of Theater of the Stars at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

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.[11] 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).

Personal life[edit]

Amsterdam married actress Mabel Todd in 1933; they divorced in 1945 after twelve years of marriage.[12] He married his second wife Kay Patrick in 1949; they remained married until his death in 1996.[1]

Hanna-Barbera lawsuit[edit]

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.[13][14] Several sources claimed the change had occurred as a result of sponsor conflict with Amsterdam's commitment to The Dick Van Dyke Show.[15][16] The case had been closed by early 1965 and the court had ruled in favor of Hanna-Barbera.[17][14]


Amsterdam died at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on October 28, 1996, at the age of 87, due to a heart attack.[1][18]

He was entombed at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.[citation needed]



Year Title Role Notes
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
1962 Gay Purr-ee Narrator Voice
1963 Beach Party Cappy
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
1993 Sandman Car Salesman


Year Title Role Notes
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 Vega$ Izzy Episode: "Centerfold"
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"

Production credits[edit]



Further reading[edit]

  • Keep Laughing. Citadel Press, 1959. ASIN B0007E665M
  • Morey Amsterdam's Benny Cooker Crock Book for Drinkers. Regnery, 1977. ISBN 0-8092-8138-4


  1. ^ a b c d e Stout, David (October 30, 1996). "Morey Amsterdam, Comedian And Joke Encyclopedia, Dies". The New York Times. p. D 22. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  2. ^ Some biographies list him as born in San Francisco because his father was a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony.
  3. ^ Block, Hal (October 18, 1950). "A Comic's Life Isn't Funny". The Milwaukee Journal (republished from Collier's). p. M24.
  4. ^ a b "CBS-TV Dropping Morey Amsterdam". Variety. February 9, 1949. p. 29. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  5. ^ McNeil, Alex. Total Television: a Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Penguin, 1985.
  6. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 866. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  7. ^ "Breakfast With Music". Ross Reports on Television including The Television Index. October 12, 1952. p. 11. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book (3 ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-1-56976-839-6.
  10. ^ Available as transcript and audio WWDTM 10-23-10,; accessed January 8, 2018.
  11. ^ Oliver, Myrna (October 29, 1996). "From the Archives: Morey Amsterdam; 'Buddy' on 'Dick Van Dyke Show'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Forgotten Mabel Todd: Morey Amsterdam's Lost Wife". thelifeandtimesofhollywood. January 17, 2017. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  13. ^ Yowp (January 27, 2010). "Yowp: Meet George Jetson — The Other One". Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Nesteroff, Kliph (October 26, 2013). "Classic Television Showbiz: An Interview with Pat Carroll – Part Two". Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search".
  17. ^ TV Firm Sued By Two, Oxnard Press-Courier, January 25, 1965
  18. ^ Vallance, Tom (November 4, 1996). "Obituary: Morey Amsterdam". The Independent. Retrieved September 29, 2021.

External links[edit]