Diamond Circle Award Winner
Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters' First Vice President Larry Vanderveen presented the organization's Diamond Circle Award to PPB member Shelley Berman at the November 15, 2013 luncheon honoring Neil Sedaka. Below are Mr. Vanderveen's remarks introducing Mr. Berman:
Shelley began studying acting at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre after he was discharged from the Navy—great choice, because that’s where he met Sarah Herman. They fell in love and were married in 1947 as they are today—66 years later.
After graduating from Goodman, Shelley joined the Woodstock Players in Illinois where he further developed and polished his acting skills with fellow players Geraldine Page, Betsy Palmer and Tom Bosley. He later starred on Broadway in the musical, “A Family Affair.”
In 1949, he and Sarah traveled across the country while he searched for acting work. In between bookings he was a social director, cab driver, speech teacher, drug store assistant manager and Arthur Murray Dance Instructor. Along the way Shelley developed his now legendary solo comedy act—having hilarious conversations on an imaginary telephone. In New York, his comedy writing talent brought him work as a sketch writer for Steve Allen’s Tonight Show.
A string of hit performances in major night clubs, starting with Chicago’s Mister Kelly’s, led to a recording contract with Verve records, which in 1959 released the smash hit and history- making album, “Inside Shelley Berman.” It was the first Gold Record comedy album and the first non-musical recording to win a Grammy.
Shelley soon became a familiar face on the Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Dean Martin shows. He has appeared in comedy and dramatic roles in such hit TV series as The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, CSI NY, LA Law and Boston Legal.
Our awardee also received an Emmy nomination for his memorable role as the father in the HBO series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. The dialogue was entirely improvised, a format made to order for him.
His film credits include, “The Best Man” (with Henry Fonda), “Divorce, American Style” (with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds), “Meet the Fockers” (with Robert de Nero and Ben Stiller) and “The Holiday” (with Cameron Diaz).
Shelley continues to do film and television work, and to make personal appearances across the country year-round. And now he can add poetry to his list of accomplishments. His book of poetry, “To Laughter With Questions,” has just been released and is doing very well. No surprise, since he taught in the Master of Professional Writing Program at USC for 23 years!
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters’ Diamond Circle, Shelley Berman.
First VP Larry Vanderveen with award winner Shelley Berman