"What I liked best was being a teacher." Harvey
Harvey was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 15th, 1923. His Father was a Brooklyn button manufacturer. After leaving New Utrecht High School, built more like a middleweight boxer than an actor, he became a dancer. Beginning his career at the New York World's Fair, he became one half of an exhibition dance team known as The Dancing Carrolls an act he liked to describe as "the worst act in show business". His partner in the act, Caroline Dubs, would later become his wife.
He longed for a career as a radio sports announcer. During World War II he served in the Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Following his discharge from the service at the end of the war in 1945, he attended New York University, obtaining a degree in radio arts by 1947. However, he chose the stage as a career upon the advice of one of his instructors, Professor Robert Emerson, who had seen him perform in college plays.
February 18th 1948, saw his Broadway debut at the Alvin Theatre in Mister Roberts. This original play was based on the best selling book, of the same name, by Thomas Heggen. Dealing with the boredom of 167 men aboard a pacific cargo ship "on its regular run from Tedium to Apathy." Harvey played a character called Insignia in this stage drama. Also in the show there were three men who he would later act alongside in the Bilko show, Karl Lukas (Stash Kadowski), Tige Andrews (Gander) and Murray Hamilton (Sergeant Allan). Playing the lead role of JG Roberts was the renowned American actor, Henry Fonda returning to the stage himself after an 11 year absence.
Superbly dramatized by Heggen and Joshua Logan the first performance was received with the critical equivalent of a 21-gun salute. The play proceeded in a series of rough-talking but poignant episodes from the incident of a nurse's birthmark, to an earthshaking shore leave (the crew mistook a French consulate for a bordello), to a Scotch-making scene (ingredients: iodine, hair tonic), to a heroic end.
Crew look into a shore hospital window and see a pretty nurse taking a shower.
Nurse overhears talk of her birthmark
The show ran until January 6th, 1951 performing 1157 performances and achieving Tony Awards® for Best Play (Thomas Heggen, Joshua Logan)
Best Actor in a Play (Henry Fonda)
Best Producer (Leland Hayward) all at the 1948 awards.
Harvey obtained runner-up honours to James Whitmore as New York's best new actor of 1948.
Here is some dialogue featuring Harvey's character, Insignia.......
While cleaning a spyglass, one crew member discovers he can look right into a shore hospital window and see a pretty nurse taking a shower. He spreads the tidings to the crew and the following is acted out.
INSIGNIA: Taking a shower ... in that bathroom ... that nurse ... upstairs window!
Instantly the others grab binoculars and stand looking out
LINDSTROM (Karl Lukas): I never seen such a beautiful girl!
MANNION (Ralph Meeker): She's sure taking a long time in that shower!
WILEY (Robert Baines): Yeah. Honey, come on over here by the window!
INSIGNIA: Don't you do it, honey! You take your time!
STEFANOWSKI (Steven Hill): There's another one over by the washbasin --- takin' a shampoo.
INSIGNIA: (Indignantly) Yeah, but why the hell don't she take her bathrobe off! That's a stupid goddamn way to take a shower!
STEFANOWSKI (Steven Hill): Ah-hah!
WILEY (Robert Baines): She's coming out of the shower! ... Kee-ri-min-ree!
LINDSTROM (Karl Lukas): Aw, she's turning around the other way!
MANNION (Ralph Meeker): What's that red mark she's got --- there?
INSIGNIA: That's a birthmark!
MANNION (Ralph Meeker): Birthmark!
INSIGNIA: What do you think it is, wise guy?
MANNION (Ralph Meeker): She's sat in some paint!
INSIGNIA: Sat in some paint! I'm tellin' ya that's a birthmark! ...
WILEY (Robert Baines): Aw-w!
STEFANOWSKI (Steven Hill): (Groaning) She's put her bathrobe on! ... They're both
leaving the bathroom together.
LINDSTROM (Karl Lukas): Hey, there ain't no one in there now! ...
MANNION (Ralph Meeker): Come on girls, let's go!
WILEY (Robert Baines): Yeah, who's next to take a nice zippy shower?
INSIGNIA: They must think we got nothing better to do than stand here!
Harvey makes his big screen movie debut, as Norelli, in You're in the Navy Now (aka USS Teakettle) when it has its premier in New York on 23rd February 1951. The starring role of Lieutenant John Harknesshe was played by movie legend Gary Cooper.
He (Cooper) is assigned as the new skipper of a submarine chaser, U.S.S. Teakettle, equipped with an experimental steam engine. He hopes that the veterans will give him enough help to accomplish the ship's objectives. Unfortunately he finds the crew and its officers, including Harvey, share his novice status! Critics gave the film rave reviews although at the box office it was just so so.
1951: Has a role as a Cab driver in the movie, Fourteen Hours. Also in this oscar nominated, film-noir, was an up-and-coming actress called Grace Kelly.
May 8th, Lands the part of Harry Shapiro in Broadway's newest war play, Stalag 17. Opening night was at the 48th Street Theatre.
Written by two ex-GIs, Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, who based it on their own real life experiences in a German prison camp during World War II. This comedy melodrama was produced and directed by José Ferrer.
Curiously, another character actor was making his Broadway debut, that man was Allan Melvin - four years later Harvey and Allan would team up again to play Sergeant Bilko's henchmen, Rocco Barbella and Steve Henshaw.
Stalag 17 was hardly important enough to make history but was obviously entertaining enough to make a good deal of money. A total of 472 performances were given up until the final Appell on June 21, 1952.
If this play had any serious purpose, it was to show how the American brand of humour, courage and high jinks enabled them to survive this German hellhole. But this play relied lots on horseplay. Supremely acted by all those involved (all-male cast) Stalag 17 highlighted the curious fact that when there are no girls in a cast the boys give even better performances with no added distractions. At the 1952 Tony Awards® José Ferrer won the Best Director award.
September, 1951: Gets to play Marvin W. 'Canarsie' Mikowsky part of Uncle Sam's Underwater Commandos The Frogmen, a classic war film that was nominated for two Oscars.
1952: A minor role in Finders Keepers followed. Then Harvey played Al in Just Across the Street a modest comedy with a clever mistaken-identity romantic plot.
October, Harvey is the new Joe, the one who is always "figgerin" how he and Willie can get out of doing a day's work in Willie and Joe are Back at the Front. Cartoonist Bill Maudlin's foot soldiers returned to make the present emergency seem less worrisome than it really was.
Tom Ewell returned to play deadpan Willie. Here he went back to basic training with as much enthusiasm as a boy at school. There was something genuinely sympathetic about the two main characters being woeful victims of war.
This time the boys concentrated their fighting efforts in Tokyo, where they were sent double quick. They didn't actually spend much time at the front but they proved just as difficult when volunteering for "special assignments" - as these tasks turned out to be the most back breaking, thankless tasks in the army --- the testing of new equipment. This got them a seven day leave which started off "off limits" in a Japanese bath house run by geisha girls. A couple of other incidents involved a ring of hijackers which all-in-all made Willie and Joe a couple of unsung war heroes!!
January 1953: Harvey finally gets to play the lead role in a movie. That film was called Girls in the Night the story of a young would-be hood, Chuck Haynes (Harvey) who is wrongly accused of robbery.
August saw Harvey reprise his stage role as Harry Shapiro in the new, Billy Wilder directed movie, Stalag 17. Also reprising their stage parts were Robert Strauss, Robert Shawley and William Pierson.
As acted by William Holden, Sergeant J.J. Sefton, the film's hero/heel emerged as the most memorable character to come out of Hollywood in the year 1953. The movie also emerged as the finest comedy drama of the year too. Tense and raucous most critics assigned this fast paced, sentimental movie to a place on the top 5 films of the year.
In making Stalag 17 for Paramount, Director Billy Wilder preserved most of the lines and situations of the original play --- whose authors Trzcinski and Devan, were themselves prisoners of war. But Wilder added some touches of his own. Like when he shows how two GIs capitalize on their nerve and theirguards' dull wits to paint their way right out of the camp and into the forbidden female compound. This was done almost entirely without dialogue and with an exact sense of timing, this incident exploited the ridiculous in a way that went right back to the great days of Chaplin and Keaton et al.
Director Billy Wilder would go on to make some of the industries finest ever movies;
1955: The Seven Year Itch - 1959: Some Like it Hot - 1960: The Apartment and in 1963: Irma la Douce
Harvey earned the Theater Owners of America's Laurel Award for outstanding comedy performance and best possibility for stardom.
August 1953, saw Harvey appear in yet another military themed movie as Sergeant Maxie Steiner in Mission Over Korea a standard war film. Although he did get to co-star with the still beautiful, Maureen O'Sullivan!
October 17 and 18 makes an appearance at the City of Hope All Star Telethon a televised fund raiser at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Also appearing were Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Ralph Edwards, Jack Carson, Connie Haines, Mickey Katz, Mel Blanc, Lawrence Welk, Desi Arnez, Lucille Ball, Joan Bennett, Raymond Burr, Edgar Bergen, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson, Charles Chaplin Jr, Hoagy Carmichael, Bob Cummings, Xavier Cugat, Howard Duff, Billy Eckstein, Eva & Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jack Haley, Buster Keaton, Angela Lansbury, Pinky Lee, Art Linkletter, Ida Lupino, Hal March, Fred MacMurray, Harpo Marx, Maureen O'Sullivan, Helen O'Connell, Dale Robertson, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Betty White and many more. City of Hope was a free National Medical Center in Duarte, California. The Telethon was sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and the San Francisco Press Club.
Between 1953 and 54 Harvey had a recurring role as Chips Collins in Make Room for Daddy (aka The Danny Thomas Show).
February 1954, another military appearance, this time as Private Gottschalk of the US Cavalry. The movie was the David Butler directed, The Command.
March, Turns his hand to stage direction. Reprising Stalag 17 at the Las Palmas Theater, LA. This intense comedy melodrama co-starred Tom Drake and Harvey and ran for a limited engagement of three weeks.
November 20, a return to Broadway in the play Wedding Breakfast. Only four people were in this drama the others were Lee Grant, Anthony Franciosa and Virginia Vincent. All turned in exceptional performances night after night.
This four character cameo was written for the stage by Theodore Reeves and brilliantly directed by Herman Shumlin. The plot was about a pair of sisters and their husbands on an amusing trip through urban areas and the great American fixation on success. Opening at the 48th Street Theatre, this critically acclaimed play, ran for 113 performances before finally ending on Feb 26, 1955.