In yesterday’s post about Zsa Zsa Gabor, I mentioned Milton Berle.
Though he’d been in the public eye since the 1930s, Milton Berle didn’t become “Mr. Television” until he started hosting NBC’s Emmy-winning Tuesday night show Texaco Star Theater (1948–55). The show turned Berle into “perhaps the most famous man in America in the late 1940’s and 50’s.”
Nightclubs changed their closing to Tuesday nights from Monday because of the popularity of Mr. Berle’s show. Restaurants were empty for the hour he was on the air and business in movie houses and theaters plummeted.
“In Detroit, an investigation took place when the water levels took a drastic drop in the reservoirs on Tuesday nights between 9 and 9:05,” Mr. Berle wrote. “It turned out that everyone waited until the end of the ‘Texaco Star Theater’ before going to the bathroom.”
So perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that, during the years that Texaco Star Theater was on the air, the downward-trending baby name Milton leveled off, then increased in usage a little, before continuing to decline in the later ’50s.
A handful of these mid-century Miltons even got the middle name Berle (thought it was sometimes spelled “Burl” or “Berl”). One example is Milton Berle Nelon, who was born in North Carolina in 1951.