Bill Dana - Rotten Tomatoes

Bill Dana

Birthplace:   Not Available
Known to millions as the easily confused, heavily accented Latino José Jimenez, Bill Dana was actually born William Szathmary-"a Jungarian Hew", explains Dana in his Jimenez dialect. A prolific comedy writer, Dana created special material for such performers as George Gobel and Don Adams throughout the 1950s. He joined the writing stable of The Steve Allen Show in 1956, making his on-camera debut as José Jimenez during a 1959 Christmas show. The sketch was predicated on the gimmick of a Puerto Rican Santa Claus whose hearty laugh came out "Jo, Jo, Jo!" The bit scored an immediate hit with the public, and soon the versatile Dana was a regular performer on the Allen show, playing a wide variety of dialect characterizations. When the Mercury space program became a hot topic, Dana cut a Grammy-nominated comedy album, José the Astronaut ("What will you do if you're lost in space?" "I plan to cry a lot") which accompanied many a genuine astronaut into the stratosphere. Dana brought his Jimenez persona to 1961's The Spike Jones Show, then appeared on a semi-regular basis as José the elevator operator on The Danny Thomas Show. This stint spun off into Dana's own sitcom in 1963, The Bill Dana Show, in which José Jimenez was employed as a bellhop at a posh New York Hotel. The series was cancelled in 1965, after which Dana continued making TV guest appearances and the occasional movie (1967's The Busy Body, 1980's The Nude Bomb, etc.). In the early 1970s, Dana was compelled to "retire" José Jimenez in the face of protests from scattered anti-defamation groups, but he still had plenty of comedy material and projects up his sleeve. One of Bill Dana's strangest endeavors of the 1980s was No Soap Radio (1982), a non sequitur-laden sitcom (with such "characters" as a boy-eating sofa!) which Dana both starred in and co-produced.

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