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!! 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.' He 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.
Private Duane Doberman
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.
During 1934, 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.
Early Gosfield family portrait (photo courtesy Annie Gosfield)
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 InAny 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."
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..........
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.
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.
"When I was young I was to broke to get married, now I'm too ugly."
With actress Russell Lee (striped dress), Bernie Fein and his wife, Kay
Maury was so proud of his own cooking!
1961: Professionally, times seem to have improved dramatically, as Maurice is offered the role of the voice of Benny the Ball in Hanna-Barbera's new cartoon series, Top Cat - this show transformed the lovable layabouts of the military motor pool in The Phil Silvers Show into alley cats. T.C., as he is known to his intellectual close friends, took the Sergeant Bilko role as the swindling leader. Of his new role Maurice said it was "a licence to steal."
Maurice said that Top Cat, "makes his residence maybe somwhere between Eighth and Ninth Avenues on 44th Street because it's not too far away from Broadway but still the right area for a policeman like Officer Dibble." Maury stated that he always wanted to be an alley cat. “Just think – alley cats have no gas or light bills to pay, no rent, no responsibilities, no nothing. Who’s more independent or free than a character like Benny the Ball?” He added. After his success on Bilko versatile Maury was even happier in his new feminine role. “It was a move, namewise, from dog to cat. In this case, the cat is smarter, so, in a sense, I’ve gained something. Benny the Ball is one of Top Cat’s sidekicks – and while he’s otherwise a very sensible guy, when T.C. comes up with his grand con ideas, Benny goes along with them only to a degree. He’s intensely loyal without being a complete idiot.” People generally viewed voicing animation as dull work what did Maury think? “Not at all. We actors on Top Cat – Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins and the rest – study a storyboard of rough drawings so we know exactly what Hanna and Barbera are looking for before we begin to record. Vocally we have to compleent the cartoons – they don’t complement us. It’s challenging and a lot of fun and besides, there are times when I can be as carefree as an alley cat doing the part – because it pays well. It’s not that there aren’t any bills or schedules, but this way I worry about them less.”.
Benny and Maury!
With Arnold Stang and Top Cat
The Brain, Spook, Choo Choo, Fancy Fancy, Officer Dibble, TC (voiced by Arnold Stang seated) and Benny (voiced by Maury seated)
Like several other cartoon series, Top Cat is more of a radio show with pictures than it is a television programme. The voices make it. The pictures while often inventive, are supplemental. As with other Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, the tones of the characters are very familiar. There is more than just a casual touch of Phil Silver's Bilko to the jaunty tones of TC. With an upsurge in popularity because of cartoons, voice actors were suddenly enjoying a new lease of life not seen since their radio heydays. This medium was a godsend to these people who specialized in animation techniques.
Apart from the inimitable, Maurice - here are the other people - who provided the voices for the show.
Arnold Stang (Top Cat): Ever since he mailed a penny postcard from his home in Chelsea, Massachusetts to the Horn and Hardart Radio Hour on a New York radio station, seeking an audition he has been in show business ever since.
The audition was given and he recited Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. Arnold hadn't even got past "Once upon a midnight dreary....................." before the producers knew they had unearthed a rare radio voice. Afterwards he seemed to be on virtually every big radio hour and also in a number of Broadway shows.
Arnold starred as Sparrow in the Frank Sinatra movie, Man With the Golden Arm and in 1963 he went on to star alongside Phil Silvers in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
He met his wife, JoAnne, when she was interviewing him for the now defunct and sadly missed Brooklyn Eagle, for which she was a roving reporter.
Marvin Kaplan (Choo Choo): He was a protege of Katherine Hepburn, who's act she loved as soon as she caught him performing at the community theatre of Los Angeles. She got him a part in the film, Adam's Rib.
Marvin played the other garage mechanic, alongside Arnold Stang in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He also starred on television in the Meet Millie series.
Allen Jenkins (Officer Dibble): He travelled widely as a youth from Staten Island, where he was born, to Brooklyn, to Nyack and lastly into Manhattan. This probably explains his ripe New York Yorkese that he brought to his numerous television and movie roles.
Allen made a career out of playing comic henchmen, stooges, policemen and other "tough guys" in numerous films of the 1930s and 1940s. He was labelled the greatest scene-stealer of the 1930s by the New York Times. His involvement in a show about cats is quite amusing as he was a devoted cat lover. At the time of the show he lived alone at Malibu Beach, California, his only housemate being a 23 pound cat called Smiley.
Leo DeLyon (Brain and Spook): His music teacher in New Jersey discovered in his early years that he had perfect pitch. He went on to study music but his career was halted due to the outbreak of World War II. During this conflict he served with the submarine service. When the fighting ceased he worked as a vocal act - he could sing as a high soprano or a baritone. It is also known that he could hum one tune whilst at the same time whistling a completely different one. (If you think that is easy just give it a whirl!)
Hanna Barbera's Top Cat made it's debut in 1961 and ran for 30 episodes. It is still revered even today as a cartoon classic.
December 1961: An appearance on the Red Skelton Show in the show called San Fernando and the Kaaka Maami Island - Red and Amanda Blake are partners in a sucker-fleecing, real estate promotion and Maurice plays the patsy falling for worthless South Sea Islands property.
In 1962, whilst still in Hollywood, Maury had a nasty encounter with an LA police officer. In fact, it was one of those incidents that only affects a hapless few. Let Maurice describe it for you, "I was driving my convertible down the street when this cop stopped me. He asked to see my driver's licence. Then instead of putting my car's shift gear in park. I put it in reverse. The car shot back and knocked over the cop's motorcycle. The cop gave me an Edgar Kennedy slow burn. I just knocked a little chrome off it. I offered to pay for it, but didn't hand him any money because I was afraid he might think I was trying to bribe him."
1963: "Movies are a very funny business. They sez to me, 'How'd you like to do a nice role in The Thrill of it All? I sez back to my agent, 'fine --- it's about time I got me a real part in a picture.' I called up my agent and enquired, 'You mean they'll pay all that moolah for me to do a bit part?' his agent responded ----'Maury that's no bit part, that's a cameo.'...............Maury exclaimed, 'cameo, smameo, money is money!"
This was Maurice talking about his new film part as a dump truck driver. Also in this movie were some of his old Bilko friends, Herbie Faye (Corporal Sam Fender), Karl Lukas (Stash Kadowski) and Edward Andrews (Major Lukens). At the time Maurice said this, "This is my first movie and in the cameo me and the other guys have to shovel gigantic soap bubbles from the Doris Day/James Garner swimming pool. Lucky thing I ain't allergic to the stuff cause I hate to get detergent on my hands. I've got to keep myself looking in top shape just in case Cary Grant or some other of those guys should suddenly get sick...............You go where the work is. Besides to tell you the truth, I'm not a good New Yorker. In all the years I lived there I only went to Brooklyn five times --- and then only to go for a hot dog at Coney Island."
1964 saw Maury in demand by the ABC television network. They wanted him to play Uncle Fester in their new comedy show, The Addams Family. The part of Uncle Fester eventually went to Jackie Coogan, the American actor who began his movie career as a child actor in silent films. He gained Worldwide fame for his performance as Charlie Chaplin's irascible sidekick in the film classic The Kid (1921) - This was ironic as in the Bilko show entitled Platoon in the Movies, Ernie comments when Doberman suddenly gets a bout of stagefright, "He has a certain Jackie Coogan quality.......when he smiles you could melt."
Looking the part!
Maurice became ill and was promptly sent to the Lenox Hill Hospital, New York. He had very high blood pressure and diabetes and what he thought was temporary blindness. The staff discharged him to a new place, the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, Saranac Lake, New York, an institution that has treated show biz people, with diseases, without charge, since the 1920s. From here he was sent to see specialists at the Physicians' Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York......but later returned to the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital.
After a lengthy illness, Maury passed away on October 19, 1964 at the relatively young age of just 51. When taken to the memorial home in the summer of 64 the doctors didn't expect him to live as long as he did. He had diabetes, heart trouble and other complications.