Season One 1955-1956: ​​

Produced and Staged by Nat Hiken
Directed by Al De Caprio
Director of Photography: William J. Miller
Production Manager: M. Clay Adams
Recording Engineer: James Shields
Art Director: Don Gilman
Film Editors: Sy Singer & Ray Sandiford
Musical Supervisor: John Strauss
Additional Music by Hank Sylvern
Coordinator: Kevin Pines
Settings: Jack Landau
Production Supervised by Edward J. Montague
Re-Recording by Dichter Sound Studios, Inc.
Filmed by Kenco Films Incorporated

  1. Oops!
Based at Fort Baxter, Roseville, Kansas

1. New Recruits​

First aired 20 September 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken

Bilko's fellow Sergeants Grover, Sowici and Pendleton beat him at cards to the tune of $250. Ernie hadn't noticed that his mirror had been moved. He tries to raise money for the next big game from his platoon who has none of it. Then suddenly Bilko is given his very own squad of new recruits and.........

Trivia: The first and only show where the Chaplain had his first name mentioned (Tom). Bilko's door has an 'I' missing from the word "Official".

2. Empty Store

First aired 27 September 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken

Fort Baxter's soldiers are desperate to get a piece of what Ernie has just bought - an empty store. They are sure he's got big plans for it. The three sergeants Sowici, Pendleton and Grover beg him for a share until eventually Ernie let them buy a third share each.

Trivia: For some reason Grover is twice referred to as Jim and not Francis. Maybe because he hadn't been allocated a first name yet or Phil Silvers found it easier to call him by his real moniker (Grover was played by Jimmy Little).  Eagle-eyed viewers may spot a mistake in a poster where Bilko is referred to as Earnst and not Ernest.

3. WAC (aka Personal Transportation Provided)

First aired 4 October 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken & Arnold Auerbach

The colonel needs a sergeant to volunteer to check the armoury every day. The request carries the regulation PTP (Personal Transportation Provided). Bilko knows what the acronym stands for and convinces the other sergeants not to volunteer by saying it stands for other things. One other sergeant also knows what PTP means - Sergeant Joan Hogan. 

Trivia: This is the first appearance of Bilko's soon to be sweetheart, Joan Hogan.

4. The Horse

First aired 11 October 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Carter is a new recruit to Bilko's platoon and he's expert with racehorses. At a country fair Bilko and his men back a horse called Bell Boy who Carter says should win. The horse comes last and Carter cannot understand why because by breeding - 'he's out of Polynesian by Ding Dong, he's of the same family as Native Dancer.' Then Carter spots that the horse has got a bad leg and tells Bilko that he should find the owner and tell him to fix the leg then horse would be worth thousands. Bilko shuts him up and buys the horse for the platoon.

Trivia: Great ad-lib from Bilko (Phil Silvers) when Bell Boy tries to get his head in front of the camera: "You're not in my platoon, back away!"  Also in a roll call the name Hiken is read out by Ernie!

5. A.W.O.L.

First aired 18 October 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Bilko is sent to Chicago to bring back Steve Nagy a Hungarian private who has gone AWOL. Ernie arrives and walks straight into a family fight involving the marriage of Nagy's sister. He tries to sort it out but.......

6. Boxer

First aired 25 October 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Bilko finds out that Private Claude Dillingham, a flower-loving member of his platoon, is a former 'Golden Gloves' champion. So he puts money on him to win the camp tournament. But Claude's girlfriend, Felicia, won't let him fight any more. So in Claudes' presence Ernie gets a sailor to insult Felicia and......

7. The Hoodlum

First aired 1 November 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken

Bilko wants to win the 'Soldier of the month' award which carries with it a prize of a three-day pass. So he smartens up his platoon. Unfortunately for him one of his men, Private Parker, is being very insubordinate. All that Parker wants is a dishonourable discharge. Bilko decides to involve the 'big shot' in a plan to rob Fort Knox. 

Trivia: First chance for Allan Melvin (Steve Henshaw) to give us his impression of Humphrey Bogart.

8. Mardi Gras (aka The Motor Pool Mardi Gras)

First aired 8 November 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

It’s the annual platoon Mardi gras and one lucky member will be the king. The draw is made and the winner is Doberman. He chooses local debutante Joy Landers to reign as his Queen. When she is asked to participate she laughs at the prospect. So Bilko decides to teach her a lesson. A rumour spreads that Doberman is in fact an international playboy who has even turned down Princess Margaret. Eventually she is desperate for Doberman who tells her to, 'Get Lost!!' in an unforgettable moment.

9. Eating Contest

First aired 15 November 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken & Arnold Auerbach

Fort Baxter Company 'B' cannot beat Company 'A' at any sport football, basketball, softball and soccer. So a camp eating contest is arranged. Bilko is quick to put his money on a corporal in his platoon, Ed Honergan, Aka 'The Stomach' - A name he obtained through his previous championship-winning prowess as the Eating champion of the US Army. Honergan is up against Hog Henderson, the best knife and fork man in the division. Let the tournament begin.

Trivia: Here is the menu for the contest: Ten dozen Oysters with plenty of crackers, Cream of tomato soup with lots of croutons, twelve chickens, three bushel of salad, fourteen steaks, six pies with cheese.  Maurice Brenner appears as a character called Corporal Zimmerman in this show.

10. The Centennial (aka 100th Anniversary)

First aired 22 November 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Lieutenant Parker from Special Services commences classes at Fort Baxter. They are in Modern Art, dancing etc. Bilko retaliates by staging a 100th anniversary pageant for Fort Baxter's centennial. It would honour all of the camps past heroes. So all of the top brass are keen for it to go ahead the only thing is it does not show Fort Baxter in a good light!!

Trivia: First appearance of Private Irving Fleischman (Maurice Brenner).  In the pageant, Duane Doberman plays the Voice of Fort Baxter.   He announces; "Today I am 100 years old."  If you listen closely to the soundtrack, you can clearly hear a member of the studio audience say, "You look it buddy!"

11. Bivouac (aka Sick Call Ernie)

First aired 29 November 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Bilko gets out of Bivouac manoeuvres every year with some strange ailment - Rhinitis, bovinitis, tonsilitis (twice once without tonsils!!). But this year the colonel is determined that Ernie goes on them. So much so that he has brought in a new medical officer, 'Iron Curtain' Curtis - people really have to be sick to get by him.

12. Singing Contest (aka Singing Platoon)

First aired 6 December 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Special services have organised a singing contest where the first prize is a trip to Miami. Not before time as the temperature at Fort Baxter is 14 degrees below zero. The platoon practises their singing but they are useless. Then the man who tends Bilko's furnace, Private Claude Brubaker, is an unbelievable tenor......

13. The Twitch (aka The Lecture)

First aired 13 December 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Colonel Hall is clamping down on the camp gambling. He wants more culture listening to music art etc. Bilko is ordered to promote a talk all about Ludwig Von Beethoven. The talk is to be given by Mrs Gloria Whitney, also known as 'The Twitch' - So the platoon all bet on how many times she tugs at her girdle during the talk.

Trivia: First time we hear Bilko giving Mrs Nell Hall his smooth-talking patter; "Colonel, you didn't tell me your daughter was visiting for the weekend."

14. Reunion

First aired 20 December 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken & Arnold Auerbach

Ernie meets up with some of his old wartime comrades in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria for a reunion. He is impressed with how well they've done for each other. One of them offers him a job and he says yes. But after a short while he starts craving for GI life again.

Trivia: Sergeant Grover (Jimmy Little) accidentally places himself in camera shot at 1 minute 27 - he soon moves away when he realises his error.  Bilko twice referred to Zimmerman as Herman in this show.

15. Rich Kid (aka The Platoon's Saloon)

First aired 27 December 1955 - Written by Nat Hiken/Barry Blitzer/Terry Ryan

A new recruit arrives in Bilko's platoon one Tommy Vandermeer. A reporter turns up looking for Tommy as he happens to be a millionaire. Ernie just happens to need money to buy the Paradise Bar and Grill in Roseville. He overhears the reporter talking to Tommy and thinks the kid will buy the Bar for him.

Trivia: Corporal Sam Fender is away on furlough, to visit his wife, after she reportedly gave birth to their seventh child.......but in the ensuing shows they only have six children.

16. Hollywood

First aired 3 January 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken

A Hollywood production company plan to make a film about the Second World War battle, Kabuchi Island. The man in charge is the great producer, Cecil D. Chadwick. He asks the Pentagon for a soldier who was in the battle to act as 'technical advisor' - they send Bilko - Ernie then finds faults in the script - so it has to be rewritten. Bilko goes on to cause havoc and eventually the studio cancels the film - to the delight of the Pentagon who awards Ernie a thirty day furlough. 

Trivia: Songwriter Jule Styne appears as himself in this episode.  

17. Investigation (aka The Big Investigation)

First aired 10 January 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

A committee has been set up by Government to cut military waste and which camp has been chosen to be inspected first - Fort Baxter. The colonel is persuaded by Bilko to let him show the 'Congressional Committee' around. They find the platoon in rags and receiving food parcels from Europe. It seems the army doesn't need less funding but more!!

18. Kids in Trailer (aka Operation Diaper)

First aired 17 January 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Mike O'Brien, a member of Bilko's platoon, has his wife and kids staying locally in a trailer. The problem is he cannot see them as he has no pass. Bilko gets Doberman to give up his three-day pass so O'Brien can see his wife. His kids are to be looked after by Bilko and company. Until the little matter of changing a diaper comes up!

19. Revolutionary War (aka Revolution)

First aired 24 January 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Aunt Minerva, Bilko's relative, sends him a diary which shows that Ernie’s Great Great uncle, Major Joshua Bilko, was on Washingtons staff during the American Revolution. Ernie is so proud at the news that he applies for the Officer Training School. Bilko is now transformed, until he starts reading the diary.........

20. Bilko's Transfer

First aired 31 February 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Vincent Bogert/Harvey Orkin

Severely reprimanded by Colonel Hall for using his staff car for dates, Bilko calls the Colonel's bluff and asks for a transfer - To his surprise his request is granted. He is transferred to Fort Jason - a barracks full of amazingly gullible soldiers. Bilko's replacement at Fort Baxter, Sergeant Baycher, makes everyone's life a misery. A stickler for rules there is so much work to do its untrue. Soon, both Colonel Hall and Bilko want the old team back.

21. The Rest Cure

First aired 7 February 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Harvey Orkin/Barry Blitzer

A heat wave hits Fort Baxter; Bilko needs to raise money and get away sharpish. He stages a talent contest and the colonel does his famous barnyard impressions. Bilko's show fails, and then he hears that some soldiers have been sent to the Rockies to an army rest centre. He gets the camp to act crazy - a Pentagon official appears - and he finds a nuthouse commanded by a man doing barnyard noises.

Trivia: Slip of the tongue by Phil in this show - he calls Dillingham, Doberman!!

22. Dinner at Sowici's

First aired 14 February 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Harvey Orkin/Barry Blitzer

Ernie thinks Joan Hogan wants to get married. So to put her off the idea he gets Sowici to invite the pair of them over for dinner. He thinks when Joan sees the battlefield that is Stanleys marriage she'll go off the whole thing but....

23. Army Memoirs

First aired 21 February 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Harvey Orkin/Barry Blitzer

Bilko is busted to private by Colonel Hall after Pendleton, Grover and Sowici drop him in it. Ernie then says to the three sergeants that he will get his stripes back within 6 hours and that they will beg the colonel to do so. Then Bilko spreads it around that he's starting his 'army memoirs' and the camp goes into a panic.......

Trivia: For some reason Sergeant Francis Grover is called Steve all the way through this show.  Overhead boom microphone, appears in shot, at the 15 minute mark.

24. Miss America

First aired 28 February 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Arnie Rosen/Coleman Jacoby/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer

Bilko holds the platoon sweetheart competition. The men all enter their girl’s pictures. Hanagan enters his sweetheart, Josie, and all of a sudden the whole platoon want their money back because as Doberman says, 'she is the most beautiful girl that I've seen in my whole life.' Bilko wants to enter her in a beauty contest as the army's 'mystery girl' - She turns up just before the contest takes place and.........

25. The Court-Martial (aka The Case of Harry Speakup)

First aired 6 March 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Coleman Jacoby/Arnie Rosen

Fort Baxter's soldiers attempt to break the record for inducting the most new recruits into the army within 2 hours. The only thing is a chimpanzee called Zippo gets inducted too, under the name of Harry Speakup!! The only way out is to court- martial Zippo with Bilko as his defence at the hearing.

Trivia: The character Martin Ford, and the MP attending the actual Court Martial, were both played by Zippys trainer/co-owner, Lee Ecuyer.

26. Furlough in New York

First aired 13 March 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken & Terry Ryan

Bilko and his sweetheart, Joan Hogan, both apply for furloughs in the big apple, but don't tell each other their destinations as they think the other wants to have some fun on their own. But when there Bilko finds all of his old girlfriends are married and Joan can't get a blind date. When Bilko mistakes the YWCA for the YMCA things start getting............. 

Trivia: Allan Melvin shows off his dulcet tones as the PA announcer.

27. The Big Uranium Strike

First aired 20 March 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Tony Webster/Coleman Jacoby/Arnie Rosen

Uranium deposits are thought to be under Fort Baxter. Bilko sends out Doberman with a Geiger counter. A strong signal comes from under the colonels living room. The colonel is convinced by Ernie that his house is infested with termites. Digging commences and then the colonel returns just as the dynamite is about to blow. 

28. Bilko & the Beast

First aired 27 March 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Tony Webster/Coleman Jacoby/Arnie Rosen

Quentin Q. Benton (aka 'The Beast'), a tough Drill Sergeant, is sent for by the colonel to make Bilko's platoon into soldiers. The man is getting the better of Ernie physically so Ernie decides to use psychological warfare on the beast and takes out a life insurance on him for $100,000. The beneficiaries are Ernie, Barbella and Henshaw. 'The Beast' thinks his food is poisoned and that Fleischman is blood-thirsty and Japanese!

Trivia: At around 13:50 Quentin Q. Benton (George Mathews) walks into the top of Bilko's door.

29. The Physical Check-up

First aired 10 April 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Coleman Jacoby/Arnie Rosen

Bilko's men are going on a 20 mile hike and the colonel excuses Ernie from leading the men on it. Bilko wonders why, suspecting that the colonel is trying to get him discharged on medical grounds. Bilko begins his own get-fit routine of exercise and soon he's in front of the Fort Baxter Medical Officer.

Trivia: First time Ernie uses the phrase; "Click, click, click"

30. Recruiting Sergeant

First aired 17 April 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Tony Webster/Terry Ryan

The colonel orders all of the men at Fort Baxter to stay on the camp. He is going to Topeka to try and recruit some new soldiers. A GI friend, whose life Ernie saved at Okinawa, wants to repay him. So he gives him a certainty in a horse race with the price 40-1. Ernie gets the colonel to take him with him to Topeka. Then, looking for Lonesome Sam's Horse Parlour, he gets unwelcome company in the form of five recruits, who are ordered not to leave him.....

Trivia: Horse racing commentary, at Lonesome Sam's Horse Parlour, provided by Allan Melvin

31. Hair (aka The Barber Shop)

First aired 24 April 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken/Terry Ryan/Barry Blitzer/Arnold Auerbach

Joan Hogan picks a wavy-haired corporal to go out with after Bilko plays poker instead of taking her to the WAC basketball game. Ernie goes to Tony the Barbers as usual. For a long time now, seven years, Tony has been testing his hair restorer products on Ernie's 'experimental area'. This time Ernie wakes up and......

32. The Con Men

First aired 1 May 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken & Tony Webster

Private Doberman is on his way to banking a $500 cheque that he got from his insurance company for being hit by a cab five years ago. Then he's swindled by three card sharks. Bilko says he'll get his money back for him and.....

33. War Games

First aired 1 May 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken & Arnold Auerbach

A National Guard commander's son asks Bilko to be best man at his wedding. The only thing is that same day the army and National Guard will be involved in War games. Bilko escapes the mock battles but is followed by his troops and........

34. Bilko in Wall Street (aka Butterworth, Butterworth & Butterworth)

First aired 15 May 1956 - Written by Nat Hiken & Tony Webster

Morgan Twinhazy, a friend of Bilkos, now works at 'Butterworth. Butterworth and Butterworth' on Wall Street, New York. Ernie visits him thinking he's some big shot. But he finds a downtrodden employee on just $42 a week. Bilko takes his career in hand and soon Twinhazys career takes off.