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Milton Berle, "Mr. Television," Causes the Sale of TV Sets to Double


As host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater beginning in June 1948, Milton Berle's highly visual, sometimes outrageous vaudeville style proved ideal for the burgeoning new medium of television. Berle became the first great television star.

"Berle and Texaco owned Tuesday nights for the next several years, reaching the number one slot in the Nielsen ratings and keeping it, with as much as an 80% share of the recorded viewing audience. Berle and the show each won Emmy Awards after the first season. Fewer movie tickets were sold on Tuesdays. Some theaters, restaurants and other businesses shut down for the hour or closed for the evening so their customers wouldn't miss Berle's antics. Berle's autobiography notes that in Detroit, 'an investigation took place when the water levels took a drastic drop in the reservoirs on Tuesday nights between 9 and 9:05. It turned out that everyone waited until the end of the Texaco Star Theater before going to the bathroom.' Berle is credited for the huge spike in the sale of TV sets. (Other comedians turned this into a punchline: 'I sold mine, my uncle sold his. . .') After Berle's show began, set sales more than doubled, reaching two million in 1949. His stature as the medium's irst superstar earned Berle the sobriquet 'Mr. Television' " (Wikipedia article on Milton Berle, accessed 12-07-2008).

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