Saturday, April 1, 2017


Mel Cooley, Sally Rogers, Laura Petrie, Buddy Sorrell:
Alan Brady... Alan Brady... Alan Brady...

Buddy Sorrell:
("The Alan Brady Show Presents")

Not for me the TV heroes of my youth to emulate: Captain Kirk, Superman, Batman, Sgt, Saunders.  I didn't want to be them.

I wanted to be Buddy Sorrell from 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

I thought Buddy had the perfect job - he got to tell jokes for a living: he got to sleep on the job; and he got to make fun of a bald guy.  And he was an "impractical joker", something that came easily to me as I was growing up with Buddy as my spiritual guide.

Okay, so I never got paid for the jokes I tell, but two out of three ain't bad.  (Sorry, Uncle Aksel.....)

In the fun & games department of Toobworld, Buddy Sorrell is at the top.  Probably in my Super Six List of fave TV characters.

Wait a minute.  Let me just make sure,.....
  • Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless
  • Number Six
  • The Doctor
  • Lt. Columbo
  • Mary Richards
  • Buddy Sorrell
Yep.  There he is!

Here's the quick biography courtesy of Wikipedia:

[Morey Amsterdam's] 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. 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.

With the sheltered Catholic life that I led back then, Buddy Sorrell really was the first Jew I ever knew about.  Jesus doesn't count.  ("Buddy Sorrell - Man And Boy")

Henry Walden:

All right, let's see... Buddy Sorrell. 

Before Alan Brady, you wrote for 'The Billy Barrow Show'. 
And before that, in early television, 
you were the very fine MC for an absolutely terrible program called 'Buddy's Band'.
("I'm No Henry Walden")

Maurice Sorrell had a brother, nicknamed Blackie.  (DVD: "Hustling The Hustler")  At one time Blackie was also a comic, working the small, out-of-the-way clubs all across the country back in the day under the moniker of "Jackie Silvers"*.  ('Happy Days' - "Goin' To Chicago") 

Buddy had a contract to write jokes for Danny Williams in nightclubs and one for Alan Brady on television.  But he did some freelance work as he did in writing zingers about Danny for his wife Kathy to use on a TV talk show. ('Make Room For Daddy' - "The Woman Behind The Jokes")

Buddy and Sally were working as the writers for 'The Alan Brady Show' before Rob Petrie came on board as their boss.  But they knew each other before that and worked together in night clubs as the musical comedy team of "Gilbert & Solomon". ("The Secret Life Of Buddy And Sally")

Buddy was a great practical joker ("The Impractical Joke") and that was another reason why he's the perfect candidate for the traditional "April Fool" slot in the year's induction list. 

Morey Amsterdam died in October of 1996, and because Buddy Sorrell is so closely identified with him (only one other person could be accepted as playing him in Toobworld and even then it was only in the fictional sense - morey on that to come), that I don't think Buddy outlived the fictional televersion of the comic actor by too long.  However, as we saw in one of his qualifying appearances for membership in the Hall, he will live long afterwards in the memories of those who loved his work.

One of those TV characters who idolized Buddy (as well as his former writing partner Sally Rogers) was Herman Brooks.  Among the other voices he had in his head, Herman called upon his memories of Buddy and Sally at times.  ('Herman's Head' -  "When Hairy Met Hermy")  Another who thought highly of him was Jerry Harper, head writer of 'The Jackie Thomas Show' ('The Jackie Thomas Show' - "Pilot")

Alan Brady bought the rights to Rob Petrie's autobiography with the intent of turning it into a sitcom for himself.  ("The Last Chapter")  He played the title role of Rob Petrie (and changed the name of his own counterpart to "Alan Sturdy".)  For the role of Buddy Sorrell, he hired the fictional televersion of Morty Gunty (who played himself in an episode of 'That Girl' - "She Never Had The Vegas Notion".)  

So that's what I mean when I say that I will accept only one other person ever playing Buddy Sorrell - as seen in that show within a show "Head Of The Family".  But only because he was acting as Buddy, not actually Buddy.

There's another crossover that Buddy was involved in, within an episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show': When he came by the Petrie house for a visit, he brought along a pack of candy cigarettes for Richie Petrie.  Those cigarettes bore the same name as a real cigarette brand only found in the fictional Multiverse - Morley's.  Morley's cigarettes are already a part of the TVXOHOF since they can connect at least twenty TV shows in Earth Prime-Time alone, let alone other TV dimensions and the Cineverse.

'Herman's Head' was certainly an out of left field choice for another TV show in which Buddy Sorrell could appear.  That appearance on 'Make Room For Daddy' was more in keeping with the milieu in which he lived and breathed - show business,  

Those appearances are the best known, but there were a few others which didn't get as much attention when they first aired,  Thankfully, the DVD and online video markets are slowly making them accessible again.  Here are some of them:

1] 'Bewitched'
"Son Of A Twitch"
As we saw with the episode "Hoho The Clown", McMann & Tate was involved in the TV business.  In this episode, one of Darrin and Larry's clients sponsored a comedy show similar to Alan Brady's and this guy was a real nasty piece of work.  (Played by Dan Tobin) Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie appeared backstage in an uncredited cameo and we're to assume they were there as Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers.  (This took place a year after 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' went off the air, but it was still a competing network, so no names allowed.)

Tobin's character lay into them with a slew of insults about their writing on the show, which Endora found funny... until he turned on her and insulted her as well.  Only Samantha's magic could smooth things over - and transform Tobin's character back from the marionette which Endora turned him into.

2) 'The Joey Bishop Show'
"Read All Over And Blue As Well"
This sitcom had already crossed over with 'Make Room For Daddy' by having Rusty Williams lodging with the Barneses while he went to college.  So it made sense to have Buddy drop by as a guest on Joey Barnes' late night talk show.  Buddy called on his reputation as the Human Joke Machine to come up with jokes to fit the news stories he found in the paper.  His prowess with a punchline was so perfect, he perused the paper with no previous preparation.

But unfortunately, one news item which Buddy never saw coming really left him steamed, and he accidentally uttered a swear word on live TV.  Joey then had to deal with the fallout from the network brass.

3) 'The Larry Sanders Show'
"Don't Ring Down That Curtain!"

Morey Amsterdam was an old man by the time this series began, and so of course Buddy was as well.  But Amsterdam was still active, with a recurring role on 'Young And The Restless'.  

Unlike many other stars who appeared on this talk show within a sitcom, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie didn't appear as themselves.  They came back as Buddy and Sally, only they were referred to as "Maurice" (which was the first name shared by Buddy and Morey - although he was born "Moritz") and "Mrs. Glimpsheier".  (With that typo in the press release, everybody ended up pronouncing Sally's married name as "Glimpsheyer".  Thus any copyright difficulties were averted.)

The writer for this episode, Steve Levitan, was inspired by the casting of Morey Amsterdam at his advanced age to incorporate another late night legend into the script.  Just as it happened with 'The Dick Cavett Show', Buddy was originally slated to appear on the Sanders show with Sally and then drop dead during the commercial break.  But even though the original draft of the script had some killer dialogue and Emmy-worthy plot points, Garry Shandling vetoed it.  He didn't want to be known as the guy who killed off a TV legend like Buddy Sorrell.

Instead, Buddy and Sally - I mean, "Maury" and "Mrs. Glimpsheier" - came on the show to do a bit of their old "Gilbert & Solomon" song and jokes routine (although not going by that name, of course.)  Afterwards they joined Larry, with Sally sitting in the chair next to Larry and Buddy on the couch with Hank.

Seeing Hank's bald pate, Buddy's eyes lit up and he started in with the zingers as if he was talking to Mel Cooley.  For example: "How come you always say the applause signs says 'Applesauce'?  You got applesauce on the mind?  I think that chrome dome of yours is full of applesauce!" (In fact, the script snuck in a little in-joke: when Hank started to protest, Larry cut him off with "Shut up, Mel.")  Buddy got so worked up that he had a small cardiac episode and had to be taken to the hospital during the commercial break.  

Larry got a phone call later from "Mrs. Glimpsheier", telling him that "Maury" was doing much better and would be able to go home in a few days.  As this was one of the last appearances by Morey Amsterdam, we can assume that despite a good prognosis, Buddy Sorrell probably died within the year.)

The episode ends with Artie convinced that they kept a lid on any bad press, but nobody expected Hank to leak the story to the newsletter put out by his fan club.....

4) 'The Duck Factory'
"A Bug In The System" 
(Also known as "Buddy Goes Buggy")
Buddy Sorrell had been an old friend of Buddy Winkler, (Brooks Carmichael: "Didn't you know?  Buddy and Buddy were buddies.")  Back in the early days of TV, Sorrell provided the voice-over, as well as the script, for Winkler's animated commercial for a drain clearing liquid called Flushao.  

Before Buddy Winkler had died, he made Buddy promise that he would come to Buddy Winkler Studios and provide some voice work for 'The Dippy Duck Show'.  During the episode, Skip Tarkenton begins to question Buddy's sanity after he insists he has to wear a bug costume while recording his part as "Orson Buggy".  (Skip: "You do realize this is a cartoon?  You're not going to be seen.")  

As Buddy's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, it's finally revealed that it was all a gag for a new hidden camera show.  And as a tip of the hat to the old 'Dick Van Dyke Show', the TV show is an updated remake of "Sneaky Camera".  ("The Ghost Of A. Chantz")

5) 'Blansky's Beauties' 
"A Fistful Of Cream Pies"
While out in Vegas, and being an old friend of Nancy Blansky, Buddy emceed one night in the style of the old-time vaudeville shows and early television.  (Morey Amsterdam recreated some of his old burlesque routines and claimed that they were originally from his show, 'Buddy's Band', which was another call-back to 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.  Morey Amsterdam is seen here with Jaqueline Susann on his old Dumont variety show.)  The whole thing erupts into chaos and Blansky does her best to keep order.  But she gets a pie in the face for her troubles.  (Most of Amsterdam's laughs come from leering up at Rhonda Bates as Arkansas, a 6'-2" stunner.)

6) 'Barney Miller' - 
"The Check Grabber"
Buddy was in a restaurant in the Village with his wife Pickles and got into a scrape with Pickles' ex-husband, Floyd B. Bariscale.  Of course, none of those names were used in order to avoid accusations of plagiarism but more importantly to avoid paying any royalties to the writers who created the characters.  (But they did sneak in that episode title so that viewers in the know would understand that Morey Amsterdam and Joan Shawee were playing their characters from 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.)

When Detectives Yemana and Fish come back from the call to investigate an altercation at a restaurant, they have with them Mr. & Mrs, Sorrell.  (But their name is used only the one time in an introduction to Barney, and even then it's pronounced "Soril" - like "floral".)  Whenever Buddy addresses Pickles, it's "Fiona", and she only calls him "Honey".

It was only one of three different story-lines for that episode.  The other sub-plots had old reliables from the 'Barney Miller' guest repertory: Don Calfa, Peggy Pope, Jack Somack as Mr. Cotterman, and Ralph Manza as blind Mr. Roth.  

For Amsterdam's sub-plot, basically Buddy and Pickles were having dinner at some restaurant downtown (I forget the name but there was a callback to it several seasons later in the episode "Contempt: Part One".) 

Apparently, just as the check was delivered to their table, Fiona's ex-husband approaches and grabs the check, making a big scene out of paying instead of Buddy.  Insulted by the insinuating remarks he's making about "Fiona", Buddy began throwing plates and water pitchers at the ex-husband as he makes a hasty retreat from the restaurant, laughing.

"Floyd B. Bariscale" is never seen in the episode, so there was no need to bring in Sheldon Leonard to even just provide his voice.  His character is not even named, only referred to as "the ex-husband" or, in Fiona's case, "my ex-husband".

There is one moment where we can easily guess that Amsterdam is playing Buddy Sorrell: as Fish puts him in "the cage", he looks up at the old flatfoot and says, "You look just like a TV producer I know.  Only melted."

It wasn't the greatest of episodes, but it was nice to see Morey Amsterdam and Joan Shawlee teamed up again.

7) 'The Beverly Hillbillies'
"Jethro Stands Up"

When Jethro Bodine decided that he wanted to try his hand at doing stand-up comedy, Mr. Drysdale hires Buddy and Sally to write the material for him at Mammoth Studios.  It was a rare example of the CBS network promoting several of their shows with a crossover in which the two sitcoms didn't even share the same production company.  (Unlike other crossovers 'The Beverly Hillbillies' had with 'Petticoat Junction' and 'Green Acres'.)

For the guest stars, the focus was more on Sally Rogers, which was nice.  There was a running gimmick in which Sally and Miss Jane Hathaway get catty with each other as they vie for the attention of Jethro.  (For Buddy, the best bit was when he cleverly avoided eating some of Granny's squirrel pot pie by insisting it had to be kosher.)

In the screencap seen above, Buddy and Sally try to fix the old Clampett truck for Granny.... 

There were two cameos Amsterdam was supposed to make and I really wish that he had because I loved both those shows.  In the 'Batman' episode "Shoot A Crooked Arrow" which opened the second season, he was supposed to do one of those window cameos as Buddy Sorrell, in much the same way that Ted Cassidy and Werner Klemperer did as their TV characters Lurch and Colonel Klink respectively.  Amsterdam was willing to do it, especially since the guest villain was the Archer as played by Art Carney.  (Carney was the co-star of 'The Morey Amsterdam Show' back in 1949.)  But having just wrapped 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' the previous May, Amsterdam capitalized on his fame with a slew of club dates all across the country that summer - so many that he collapsed from exhaustion and had to bow out of the 'Batman' cameo.

As for the other cameo....  'Get Smart' was well known for having famous people do small walk-ons in the spy caper - Bob Hope as a room service waiter, Buddy Hackett as a gunsel in a spoof of "The Maltese Falcon", Johnny Carson as a train conductor and as the Royal Chamberlain of Caronia.  Buddy was to appear in the episode "Die, Spy" as a Borscht-Belt comic uneasily playing in a small Arabian nightclub.  But it was considered too edgy, what with the Six Day War less than a year before.  So, sadly it was cut.  I could have easily splained away his appearance as being that of Buddy Sorrell, who should fire his manager as soon as he got back to the States.  

Oh, well.  At least Robert Culp got to do his cameo in that episode and I have decreed that he was playing Kelly Robinson of 'I Spy' (which this episode was spoofing with Max and guest star Stu  Gilliam mimicking the Culp and Bill Cosby roles.)

So here's to you, the real Buddy Sorrell.  Welcome to the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame.  And thank you for the inspiration to be a new impractical joker!


"J. Jackie Silver" wouldn't be the only stage name which Blackie Sorrell would use as a stand-up comic.  And because of that, he will one day gain entry into the TVXOHOF as part of the Birthday Honors List.

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