Shelley Berman

Shelley Berman

Highest Rated: 100% Divorce American Style (1967)

Lowest Rated: 37% You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008)

Birthday: Feb 3, 1925

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

The "sit-down" comedy of Shelley Berman - so named for his frequent position on stage, perched on a stool as he reeled off anxious, neurotic monologues that embodied the minor tragedies of everyday life - was a major force in transforming the tone and focus of comedy in the mid-1950s from broad slapstick and joke-driven material to humor drawn from character foibles and all-too-real scenarios. Born Sheldon Leonard Berman on February 3, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois, he intended to become a serious actor, studying at Chicago's Goodman Theatre after serving in World War II. He married fellow student Sarah Herman in 1947, and the couple headed east to New York City, where Berman contributed sketches to "The Steve Allen Show" (NBC/ABC/syndicated, 1956-1964). The Bermans then returned to Chicago, where he began performing with Mike Nichols and Elaine May in the Compass Players, an improvisational troupe that would become the famed Second City. During his tenure, he began to develop solo routines in which he would portray one half of a telephone conversation. The monologues took off, and Berman was soon an in-demand comic on the Chicago and national club circuit. These led to a contract with Verve Records and a comedy album, Inside Shelley Berman, which landed at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard album chart for five weeks and earned him the first Grammy Award for a spoken comedy record. Berman was soon appearing on television, both as a comic performer and actor, most notably on "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1963), and would record six more albums for Verve. But a 1963 segment on "The DuPont Show of the Week" (NBC, 1961-64) would derail his career for decades; the documentary episode, which observed Berman's life and career both on and offstage, captured a moment in which he was provoked into a rage by a phone that rang during one of his performances. He was soon dogged by negative press, which portrayed him as difficult and tempermental - a notion underscored by his belief that Bob Newhart had plagiarized his telephone routines for his own act - and Berman would maintain a low profile as a guest performer on episodic television and the occasional stage production for much of the next three decades. He also wrote several books and television pilots and served as a lecturer in the University of Southern California's masters program for professional writing, and taught performance at the Improv Olympics. The death of his son, Joshua, from a brain tumor at the age of 12 in 1977 further limited his visibility, but by the late 1980s, Berman began to resurface: he had his own one-man show, "Insideoutsideandallaround with Shelley Berman," in 1980, and became a regular presence in guest roles on television, most notably as Hollywood producer Ben Flicker on "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994) and as a judge on "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08). Berman mounted a terrific comeback in 2002 when he was cast as Larry David's irascible father on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), for which he received an Emmy nomination in 2008. The exposure afforded by the show led to appearances in films like "Meet the Fockers" (2004) and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008), and several more comedy albums, including To Laughter with Questions in 2013. Berman logged his last screen appearance on a 2012 episode of "Hawaii 5-0" (CBS, 2010- ); he died from complications related to Alzheimer's disease at his home in Bell Canyon, California on September 1, 2017 at the age of 92.

Highest rated movies

Divorce American Style
The Best Man
When Jews Were Funny
The Holiday
Teen Witch
Meet the Fockers
You Don't Mess With the Zohan




67% 35% When Jews Were Funny Unknown (Character) - 2013
No Score Yet 27% The Legend of Secret Pass Ira (Voice) - 2010
37% 45% You Don't Mess With the Zohan Zohan's Father (Character) $100.0M 2008
50% 80% The Holiday Norman (Character) $63.2M 2006
79% 61% The Aristocrats Self $6.4M 2005
38% 58% Meet the Fockers Judge Ira (Character) $279.2M 2004
No Score Yet No Score Yet Elliot Fauman, Ph.D. Stromberg (Character) - 1990
44% 74% Teen Witch Mr. Weaver (Character) - 1989
No Score Yet No Score Yet Rented Lips Bill Slotnik (Character) - 1988
No Score Yet No Score Yet Think Dirty Nat Kaplan (Character) - 1970
100% 57% Divorce American Style David Grieff (Character) - 1967
100% 90% The Best Man Sheldon Bascomb (Character) - 1964


No Score Yet 71% Hawaii Five-0 Unknown (Guest Star) 2012
92% 92% Curb Your Enthusiasm Nat David (Guest Star) 2002 2004-2005 2007 2009
22% No Score Yet Raising the Bar Unknown (Guest Star) 2009
72% 100% The Unusuals Tom Speigelman (Guest Star) 2009
No Score Yet 80% CSI: New York George Savar (Guest Star) 2009
96% 95% Pushing Daisies Unknown (Guest Star) 2008
No Score Yet 81% Hannah Montana Dr. Froman (Guest Star) 2008
86% 92% Boston Legal Judge Robert Sanders (Guest Star) 2006-2008
65% 82% Entourage Uncle Shelley (Guest Star) 2007
84% 75% Grey's Anatomy Unknown (Guest Star) 2005
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Bernie Mac Show Unknown (Guest Star) 2005
No Score Yet 80% The King of Queens Unknown (Guest Star) 2003
No Score Yet No Score Yet L.A. Doctors Unknown (Guest Star) 1999
11% No Score Yet Living in Captivity Unknown (Guest Star) 1998
29% No Score Yet Chicago Sons Unknown (Guest Star) 1997
79% 93% Friends Mr. Kaplan Jr. (Guest Star) 1996-1997
No Score Yet 75% MacGyver Unknown (Guest Star) 1991
No Score Yet No Score Yet CBS Summer Playhouse Unknown (Character) 1987
No Score Yet No Score Yet Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Unknown (Guest Star) 1987
No Score Yet 90% Knight Rider Unknown (Guest Star) 1985
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hotel Barney (Guest Star) 1985
No Score Yet 80% CHiPs Unknown (Guest Star) 1981
No Score Yet No Score Yet Police Woman Eddie Bender (Guest Star) 1975
No Score Yet No Score Yet What's My Line? Unknown (Character),
1960 1973-1974
No Score Yet 100% The Mary Tyler Moore Show Dr. Walter Udall (Guest Star) 1970
11% No Score Yet The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Unknown (Guest Star) 1967
100% No Score Yet The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Unknown (Guest Star) 1966
No Score Yet 20% Bewitched Mr. Brinkman (Guest Star) 1964
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Judy Garland Show Unknown (Guest Star) 1964
No Score Yet 100% Rawhide Unknown (Guest Star) 1962
82% 95% The Twilight Zone Archibald Beecroft (Character) 1961
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Dinah Shore Show Guest 1960