Milton Berle

Even during his heyday as a star of 1950s television, few of Milton Berle's fans were aware that he began as a child actor in silent films. Born Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908, in New York City, he won a talent contest at age 5 and was soon appearing in serials and shorts produced by the Biograph Co.

By age 12, he was on the Broadway stage, and in 1929, he became one of the first performers seen on the then-experimental medium of television. Already a popular stage and radio comedian, he began playing adult roles in films such as Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941), but it was in early television that Berle made an indelible mark.

As host of "The Milton Berle Show," chewing a cigar and often in drag, "Uncle Miltie" ruled the small screen for most of a decade. He continued to appear on TV shows of all kinds and in occasional films through the '90s. Berle died at age 94 on March 27, 2002.