(July 25, 1908 – June 4, 1990Shepard, Richard. F. , The New York Times
, June 22, 1990) was an American actor
Gilford was born Jacob Aaron Gellman
on the lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City
, and grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His parents were Romanian-born Jewish
immigrants Sophie "Susksa" (née
Jackness), who owned a restaurant, and Aaron Gellman, a furrier
., The New York Times
Gilford was the second of three sons, with an older brother Murray ("Moisha") and a younger brother Nathaniel ("Natie").
Gilford was discovered working in a pharmacy by his mentor Milton Berle
. While working in amateur theater, he competed with other talented youngsters, including a young Jackie Gleason
. He started doing imitations and impersonations. His first appearance on film was a short entitled Midnight Melodies
where he did his imitations of George Jessel
, Rudy Vallee
and Harry Langdon
. He developed some unique impressions that became his trademarks — most notably, one of "split pea soup coming to a furious boil" using only his face. Other unusual impressions he created were a fluorescent light going on in a dark room, John D. Rockefeller Sr.
imitating Jimmy Durante
, and impressions of animals.
In 1938, Gilford worked as the master of ceremonies in the first downtown... Read More