Dana, Bill, 1924-

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1924-10-05
Americans

Biographical notes:

Most people know Bill Dana as "Jose Jimenez" a popular character he created on the Steve Allen show in the 1950s and continued to perform throughout the 60s. But Dana was also a writer, producer, recording artist, and comedian. Dana was born William Szathmary on October 5, 1924 in Quincy Massachusetts to Joseph and Dena Szathmary, the youngest of six children. After graduating Emerson College in Boston in 1950 on the GI Bill (having served in the 263rd and 66th Infantry during WWII), Dana began as a page at NBC's famous Studio 6B while performing comedy in nightclubs around New York with partner Gene Wood. In the 1950s he performed on the "Imogene Coca Show", "The Danny Thomas Show" and "The Martha Raye Show" and wrote for and produced the "Spike Jones Show". His career took another major turn when he began writing stand-up routines for the young comedian Don Adams including the now-famous "Would you believe" jokes. From there, he was brought in as a writer for the "Steve Allen Show" (ABC). He starred in and produced "The Bill Dana Show" on NBC (1963-65). His comedy albums, as both Jose and Bill Dana, were top-sellers in the 1960s. He helped launch the careers of comedic greats such as Don Adams, Jackie Mason, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors. He was nominated for several Emmy awards for his comedy writing. He was one of the founders of A & M records and helped start the career of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. He's authored books (notably The Laughter Prescription. Ballantine Press, 1982 with Dr. Lawrence Peters) and ecology cartoons (Ecolo-Jest. Price-Stern-Sloan, 1972). He was a top executive at the CIA (California International Artists' talent agency). He produced the new "Milton Berle Show". Another career highlight was as writer of the top-rated episode of "All in the Family" featuring Sammy Davis Jr., consistently rated in the top ten of TV Guide's "Top 100 television episodes of all time". Dana was a featured guest-star on many television sitcoms including "The Golden Girls" as Uncle Angelo in the 1980s.

From the description of Bill Dana papers 1940-2006. (Emerson College). WorldCat record id: 153181525

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Ark ID:
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SNAC ID:
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Subjects:

  • Comedians
  • Jewish comedians
  • Comedy
  • Television--Production and direction
  • Hispanic American comedians
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Television scripts
  • Male comedians
  • Television comedy writers

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)