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Monday, 11 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #24 – 11 May 1911

Phil Silvers, award-winning entertainer and comedy actor, was born on 11 May, 1911.  He was one of eight children born to Russian-Jewish immigrants.  He grew up in Brooklyn.  From an early age he caught the entertainment bug and just into his teens, he started appearing in vaudeville and burlesque shows.  He got a few minor roles in films and Broadway plays.  His ‘proper’ film career began in the 1940s with MGM and 20th Century Fox, amongst other studios.  He did not abandon the stage, though.  In 1952, he appeared on Broadway in Top Banana and won a Tony.

In 1955, he launched The Phil Silvers Show on television, starring as fast-talking Sergeant Ernie Bilko, always looking for opportunities to make easy money.  The show lasted 143 episodes over its 4-year life.

Phil Silvers’ screen career, large and small, was a mixture of supporting roles and guest star spots.  He is fondly remembered for the 1966 film, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  A theatre version took place in 1972 and during the run Silvers suffered a stroke.  He recovered and, still not in perfect health, he kept working as much as he could.

He died at 74 on 1 November, 1985

Here’s a very short clip of Dick Van Dyke talking about Phil Silvers:

Sources: Various

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