On the show, Milton (Berle) loved to do Jewish schtick. He would use words like hamntashen [a kind of cake] that you wouldn’t understand if you weren’t Jewish. We were once discussing that in Lindy’s, and I said, “Milton, you’re one of the best comedians I ever saw, but it sure helps to be Jewish. If only the goyim knew what they were missing.
I punched up a very sensitive button. Milton’s manager, Irving Gray, jumped in and said I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about. As far as they were concerned, Milton was just as big in the boondocks as Bob Hope was, and Irving had all the demographic statistics to back it up. I never broached the subject again, but I’ll tell you this, when television moved out of the Northeast, Milton was never a smash in places like Peoria or Galveston, and Bob Hope was.