A shout-out today for comic Al Bernie (Alfred Bernard Price, 1920-2003). Another great stage name: Al Kelly plus Ben Bernie!
Bernie hit the ground running in show business when he was still a teenager. A gifted impressionist, he started out as a regular on Rudy Vallee’s radio show. He was only 14 when he appeared in the Broadway show Calling All Stars (1934) with Phil Baker, Lou Holtz, Judy Canova, and Gertrude Niesen. He also appeared in a 1937 movie short called Rhythm in a Night Court with Harry Rose. During the World War Two years, toured with the U.S.O. in a unit with Mickey Rooney. Bernie’s main bread and butter for many years was live stand-up in the Catksills and New York nightclubs. He reached the pinnacle of his success when he hosted the TV variety show The Fifty Fourth Street Revue in 1949 and 1950. He also did spots on The Ed Sullivan Show (seven appearances), The Milton Berle Show, Penthouse Party, The Kate Smith Hour, Jackie Gleason, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas. In later years he played Vegas and was very involved in the Friar’s Club.
Bernie’s son, Marc Price (b. 1968) also went into the business as a stand-up comedian in Las Vegas and on TV shows like Last Comic Standing. He is perhaps best known for playing Skippy on Family Ties, when he was a teenager. He’s also in numerous movies, notably horror films like Trick or Treat (1986) and Killer Tomatoes Eat France (1992), and produces shows for television.
For more on variety history, including television variety, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.
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