"I always felt that Ernie Bilko was equal parts Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers. Phil brought, from his burlesque days and from his nightclub act, the fast-talking man, with all that energy and a very distinctive style. Nat brought a literacy to it, an intelligence, that was in the subtext. Much of what Ernie says is witty. It's guised in this staccato tempo, but it's there." Leonard Stern The purpose of this website is to celebrate the series called The Phil Silvers Show. - to provide a definitive source of information about this timeless television comedy classic.
The show - also titled You'll Never Get Rich and, informally, Bilko and Sergeant Bilko - was born, destined to win plaudits by the score, including three consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Comedy Series, and become, unarguably, one of the all-time great sitcoms. Across the globe, good judges consider it to be the best comedy ever made.
With his brilliant million-watt brain, his thickly bespectacled eyes able to zero in on an approaching sucker at any distance and his razor sharp patter that could get you to pick your own pocket and hand him the wallet, Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko was television's first, best and shrewdest con man.
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Where others saw the 2500 acres of Fort Baxter, Kansas, as nothing more than a forlorn, forgotten military outpost, Bilko saw a delicious gold mine: an Uncle Sam-underwritten resort casino complete with a captive community of khaki-clad bumpkins with loose grips on their paypackets. Played, by Phil Silvers, like a hard-bopp jazz riff, Bilko was cunning, resourceful and relentless . . . . . . a noncommissioned officer and a scoundrel. Phil was supported by a splendid ensemble of talented character actors. Harvey Lembeck and Allan Melvin were Bilko's henchmen (Rocco Barbella and Steve Henshaw), Paul Ford, the lorded over Colonel Hall, and the hapless bunch of Motor Pool operatives were played by Billy Sands (Dino Paparelli), Herbie Faye (Corporal Sam Fender), Maurice Gosfield (Duane Doberman), Mickey Freeman (Fielding Zimmerman), Maurice Brenner (Irving Fleischman), Karl Lukas (Stash Kadowski), Jack Healy (Mullen), Terry Carter (Sugarman), P. Jay Sidney (Palmer), Tige Andrews (Gander), Walter Cartier (Claude Dillingham) and Bernie Fein (Gomez).
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This page was last updated: 4/23/2013
Ernie Bilko with his henchmen, Corporal Steve Henshaw and Corporal Rocco Barbella