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The Phil Silvers Special - Summer In New York
With Phil in a Camel advert
Photo Gallery (Click on any image to expand)
Early Gosfield family portrait: Maurice as a devilish child,
far right, second row from the front.
(Photo kindly used with the permission of Annie Gosfield)
Ernie Bilko gave his opinion, on Duane, to socialite Joy Landers; "What does he look like? What does Doberman look like? How, how can I describe him to you? First you must forget all your middle class ideas of beauty, which is rapidly losing favour with the continental set. To describe him we must take a leaf from the orient. They who have mastered the arts of love, beauty as they only can. Short! With that, pulse-quickening plumpness. A Buddha…..and his face, glistening as if rubbed with the mysterious oils of the East. Swarthy, greasy, if you will, but with that inscrutable air about him."
Private Duane Doberman was the regular dimwit in the series forever falling for schemes & scams.
Duane was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA. Educated at Forsyth High School..........
He has appeared in many guises - An old soldier, film star 'Tex Doberman'. Crown Prince, Spaceman from Mars etc.
A very clever man if allowed to answer questions on his favourite subject of comic books!
He can actually sing as well as Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby - although he must have a cold to do so!!
Duane was picked to be King Rex for the motor pool Mardi Gras. His sister, Diane, even allowing for Muscleman's Law and Theory of Family Equalisation is just as ugly as him!!
He actually gets to be the army face on their recruiting poster - although he has to wear a gas mask to do so!!
Ran for Mayor of Roseville, with slogans like 'If you like Ike, you'll love Doberman' and 'I'm insane about Duane.'
Hates taking a shower at any time!! He wanted to get married to the daughter of a millionaire, Lillian Middleton.
His military decorations include; eight Campaign ribbons and two Battle Stars. During World War II battle, he drove Sherman tanks.
Played by Maurice Lionel Gosfield
So. who exactly was Mr Gosfield......or "Maury," as his closest friends called him....
Maurice was born in New York, January 28 1913. He was also educated in the Big Apple, then Philadelphia and finally in Evanston, Illinois, where he attended high school.
1933: At the age of 20, and still based in Evanston, he made his professional debut with the North Shore Players.
During1934, Maury began acting with the Ralph Bellamy and Melvyn Douglas Players in Chicago. At the Windy City Globe Theater, he appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew to mention just two of the celebrated Bard plays in which Maurice had major parts.
Maury made his Broadway debut as Manero in Siege in December 1937. Among his Broadway credits were; The Lady Comes Across, as a President in the Claude Rains-headlining-play, Darkness at Noon (1951 - Jun. 23, 1951), The Petrified Forest, Three Men on a Horse, as a Turkish Gent in In Any Language (Oct. 7, 1952 - Nov. 15, 1952), Room Service and A Stone for Danny Fisher (starring Zero Mostel).
During World War II, Maury served in the US Army……spending three and a half years as a Technical Sergeant with the 8th armoured division (who were attached to the force at Fort Knox, Kentucky).
In motion pictures, he appeared in Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (as a ticket seller), Naked City, Kiss of Death, Guilty Bystander and A Tale in a Teacup.
What’s more, he performed in more than 2000 radio programmes and had minor roles on at least a hundred TV shows. He and Phil Silvers worked together on a promising radio show that lasted only two months……….
He perfected a talent for offbeat roles while mastering more than a dozen different dialects. Among these were Italian, Russian, Greek, Slavic, German, Scandinavian, Cockney, Scottish, English, Irish, Arabian, Chinese, American Western, Southern, New England and Brooklynese…..
Maurice considered changing his name only to be told by a fellow actor (Dick Barthelmess) "You think you've got a tough name! If you get good enough, everybody'll remember your name whatever it is."
In the mid 1950s, Maurice went to an open casting call for a new comedy show, written by Nat Hiken and starring the inimitable, Phil Silvers. When Phil looked at him he cried out, "no, no --- not you! What are you trying to do ruin me? You want this show to be cancelled too!!"
A pudgy man called Maurice had two crossovers in this television pilot film.
What Maury was supposed to do was walk in front of the camera once, then come back across. Exactly what he did do – but with a few extra added touches of his own thrown in. He slouched when he walked. When in front of the camera he’d grab his belly and sigh.
Two weeks later he went to pick up his money for his bit role in the telly pilot. Suddenly a man near the cashier’s window saw him, “YOU!” said the man. “HA-HA-HA, HO-HO-HO! “YOU! HA-HA-HA, HO-HO-HO!””
Still cracking up, the man left…….The cashier asked Maury, “Do you know who that was?” Maury didn’t but thought that the giggling fellow was some kind of a nut.
“That was Jack Rothenberg, executive president of CBS-TV,” she stated.
A month later, while Maury was playing the role of a killer in the Broadway play A Stone for Danny Fisher, he received a call from CBS.
The pilot had been a success. The show would become a comedy series about Army life called You’ll Never Get Rich. It would star Phil Silvers as Sergeant Bilko and they wanted Maurice for a regular role…..
Maury was not overly enthused…..he was happy that they liked him, particularly laughing boy Rothenberg….but the offer would bring huge complications.
How could he appear in an off-Broadway play (at the Downtown National Theatre) and make a television series at the same time?
Producer Nat Hiken had the answer to the conundrum….
The series would be filmed during the day, which allowed Maury the chance to appear on Broadway in the evenings…..On the days he had to appear in matinees, they shot the sequences were he wasn’t required.
"He once told me", Nat Hiken related, "he never worked a day in anything but the theatre."
Maury thought it over and made an affirmative decision, “Well, it’s a job,” he’d state. So it was……a job that would last four and a half years…….a job that transformed Maurice, from gangster roles on every major television show, to an Army private named Doberman.
“Doberman,” recalled Maury. “That name was the first surprise for me. In the pilot they had me called Mulrooney, I guess I just looked more like a Doberman.”
If you were lovable and ended up the champ it was hard to play the chump…..For Maury, this show brought him periods of self-doubt…..that was until all the letters began to pour in….
These told of the pleasure his performances had given, to countless hospitalized veterans, making them forget their troubles and laugh out loud again at his glorious antics… He once got a letter from England about the Bilko show which said he was the greatest thing since Charles the First was beheaded by Cromwell…..
The self-doubt vanished from Maury as he realized how he contributed to someone’s peace of mind…justifying his function as a human being.
Phil Silvers recalled one sequence with the English actress Kay Kendall. Having lunch with members of the company at a long table, Kay, forever the British lady, stifled a gasp of shock when she saw Dobie eating. On his fork he’d spread two meatballs. The other hand squeezed a sausage and a chunk of bread. Half a cannelloni smeared his wrist, while strands of spaghetti curled around his tie. ‘Remember, Kay,’ a gag writer pointed out, ’Dobie’s working without a net.’
When the first season's shooting ended, Phil Silvers took Maury to Las Vegas to be his stooge in an act that played at the Nevada gambling resort for six weeks. He also teamed up with Phil in personal appearances in Minneapolis, Chicago and New York. Phil also gave Maury a large share of the spotlight on three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Whenever the Bilko show had a studio audience, Mr Silvers would make a big fuss over "his" Doberman. He called him the show's "love interest" and cracked a half dozen jokes about him.......looking at his stooge's outsized "bay window" Phil would say, "He was in the Battle of the Bulge."
1960: After the Bilko show ended, Maurice stated that Doberman is no more and he will go back to being Maurice Gosfield - "When I took the job I was the first actor in history to be named after a dog...........while it was good for the pocketbook it was terrible for the ego."
Once again got the call from Nat Hiken, to appear with Phil Silvers, this time in a one-off television special called The Phil Silvers Special - Summer In New York - He also appeared in The Jim Backus Show (show called Hot off the Wire) as Private Dilly Dillingham and The Jack Benny Show where he plays an amateur talent "master of ceremonies".
Wherever Phil went people would ask: "Where is Doberman?" Schools in the East had even made Doberman their mascot. In one fell swoop, Maury had become what Art Carney was to Jackie Gleason.
Years later, Phil Silvers said this, about Maurice, when he appeared on the Michael Parkinson television show; "He didn’t know what he was, he thought he was Cary Grant playing the role of a fat fellow. He lived the way people thought I lived; he never missed a cocktail party. If we had to do a benefit or charity show he was the safest to take. We would make the plane trips, get to the place and the next night would be the show and in would walk Duane, with one of the stewardesses. I don’t know, some women did distortion. I mean I was out rehearsing and he was out swinging…………..In Las Vegas, he thought everyone should faint when they saw him. In the show, the only one who missed cues was Doberman. We protected him, you don’t know this but he never did too much, long speeches he couldn’t handle. We had excuses when he blew a scene. He was once late for rehearsal and he said a priest had short hopped him for a cab. What did you mean Doberman?" (Looks up to the heavens)
Maury said, "A private's pay is good. I've been soldiering for Phil's army longer than in Uncle Sam's..........and I like it better. After 24 years in show business, you wind up being named after a dog."
At this time he was 5ft 4 inches tall, and weighed 200 pounds. "I went on a reducing diet last week," he said. "and gained four pounds."
In 1957 Maurice received an honour when he was named "TV's Bachelor of the Year" by the Bachelor and Bachelorettes Society of America..........
Right: Maurice, at the award ceremony, with the added attraction of meeting the delectable, future Catwoman herself, Julie Newmar.....
Summer 1958: Maury usually spent his mid-season break cruising in one of his sailboats........ but In the summer this year he was appearing at the Garden Center Theatre, Vineland, Ontario. Here he had the starring role in Harold Robbins At War With the Army. Whilst here he visited the Niagara Falls of which he said, "Well at least it isn’t something you can find around every neighbourhood."
At the 1959 Emmy Awards he was nominated in the category 'Best Supporting Actor (Continuing Character) in a Comedy Series' for: The Phil Silvers Show
Because of his popular and likable supporting role, he became one of the few actors to get his own comic book, based on the Private Doberman character, published by DC comics in 11 issues, from 1957 to 1960.
Magazine Gallery (Click on any image to expand)
Off-camera photos (Click on any image to expand)
“When I was young, I was too broke to get married. Now, I’m too ugly.”
Wow wow wow it's Julie Newmar!!