Milton Berle was television's first superstar and remains one of America's top comedians.
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
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"Well, that certainly can't hurt you," I told him.
"Of course not. Cigars are fine as long as you don't inhale them [or sit next to George Burns]. That's why I'm always after my friends to give up cigarettes. That's what kills them. That's what killed Ruth."
While we were on the subject, I had to ask him what he thought of all the restrictions on smoking today.
"I don't like it. I don't believe that secondhand smoke gives you cancer. They've never proved it.
"You know, when Bush was president, he appointed Arnold Schwarzenegger national chairman of the Council on Physical Fitness. Schwarzenegger smokes cigars, you know, though he doesn't want the public to know it. Anyway, Arnold appointed me spokesman for physical fitness for older Americans.
"Recently I've been going around to all the senior-citizen places speaking on the subject. I tell people that I smoke cigars, but tell them to lay off cigarettes. And I mention that I keep healthy by exercising. Every day I run on the treadmill and punch the bag. I used to be an amateur boxer."
At the time of our interview, Berle was producing a videotape starring himself called "The Milton Berle Low Impact/High Comedy Workout for Seniors."
In it he leads a group of oldsters ranging in age from 70 to 101 through some fairly strenuous exercises.
Berle not only acts in the tape, he directed it, wrote the material, set the key lights, chose the camera angles and is in charge of its distribution. Shades of his "Texaco Star Theater" days.
Berle's comedy-workout tape will be in video stores by the time this is published. According to those who've seen the finished product, it's not only helpful and inspirational, it's extremely funny.
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