Herbie Faye: Burlesque, Broadway and Bilko

Herbie Faye (1899-1980) was an old time vaudeville and burlesque comic, who later became a familiar character actor in films and television. In 1928 he hired a then-unknown Phil Silvers to support him in an act that also featured Mildred Harris, the former Mrs. Charlie Chaplin. The association with Silvers would pay off, for in later years it was Silvers’ turn to do the hiring after he became a star. He cast Faye in the original Broadway production of Top Banana (1951-52) as well as the 1954 film version. He also made him a regular on Sgt. Bilko (1955-59) and The New Phil Silvers Show (1963–64).

Faye also performed in the Broadway revue Wine, Women and Song (1942) with fellow vaudeville vets Jimmy Savo, Pinky Lee and Florence Moore. Related film and television work included Snow White and The Three Stooges (1961), four episodes of Make Room for Daddy (1961-64), two episodes of The Jack Benny Program (1963–64), the Jerry Lewis movies The Patsy and The Disorderly Orderly (both 1964), and The Family Jewels (1965), six episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show (1962–65), five of The Joey Bishop Show (1961–65), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) and The Love God (1969) with Don Knotts, four episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (1965-67) and four of Gomer Pyle (1966-68), The Night They Raided Minksy’s (1968) with Bert Lahr, five episodes of The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy (1968-72), Chico and the Man with his old cohort Jack Albertson, five episodes of The Odd Couple (1970-75), five of Doc (1975-76) and much more. His last performance was in the film Melvin and Howard (1980) with Jason Robards (with whom he’d appeared in The Night They Raided Minsky’s 12 years earlier).

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,