On a cold January day in 1964, I was did my ventriloquism act on Morty Gunty’s local Channel 9 kiddie show, “The Funny Company.”
It was taped at WOR’s Times Square studio. I believe the address was 1440 Broadway.
Morty asked me my dummy’s name and I told him, “Melvin Mazel.” (“Mazel” is the Yiddish word for “Luck.”)
The attached screen grab is the exact moment Morty asked incredulously, “Melvin MAZEL?” then turned his head and said to an off- camera stagehand, “Irving, he’s from your parish!”
I saw Morty one more time in 1978 when he was performing at a nightclub in Miami Beach. I remember one of his jokes (paraphrasing, here) “My wife is an avid reader. She bought “The Joy of Cooking” and “The Joy of Sex” and brought a brisket to climax.”
Sorry for the bad pun, but I couldn’t resist. When I first saw the eBay auction for this Morty Gunty postcard from The Funny Company TV show, I thought it was just like the one I had way back in late ’64.
But looking at it now, I realize it’s not likely the same one. That postcard was printed in blue, including the autograph. Further, I don’t recall the words “Keep Smiling” being on the card, but my recollection could be faulty on that point.
So the mystery deepens. Based on my memory, there must have been at least two different printings, if not two different postcards.
At last! I own an original Morty Gunty autograph. Not a pre-print. It appears to be inscribed “To Max.” I first wrote about it at this link, but I hesitated to buy it until humor writer Arnie Kogen confirmed the authenticity of the autograph. So I bought it, and here’s my scan, which is an improvement over the auction picture.
Comments for my Morty Gunty posts now include one of his daughters, and his daughters’ babysitter! This is wonderful. I’ll be contacting both soon, and hopefully be putting them in touch with one other.
PBS is running a series called Pioneers of Televison. It’s not necessarily about the first TV personalities, but performers who broke new ground in their own time. One of them is Carl Reiner, who had pitched a pilot called “Head of the Family,” featuring Morty Gunty originating the role of Buddy Sorel, later done by Morey Amsterdam in The Dick Van Dyke Show; who, frankly, I thought was too old for the part. It was fun to see a few moments of Morty Gunty on PBS tonight.
If you take a look at this past post, you will see that Morty’s daughter Sheryl has added a comment. I’m very pleased that Sheryl found my Web site, and I hope she spotted her late father on TV this week.