1960: Hollywood enters political battle

Tinseltown biggies pick a side for election

July 12, 1960:
Hollywood has only begun to fight in the political battle of 1960. While showbiz Demos are busy in L.A., the GOPers are warming up in the elephant bullpen… The big hit of the first Hollywood entertainment for the Democonvention was the “team” of Milton Berle and Bill Dana (“Jose Jimenez”) at the BevHilton … Jimenez played a “Senator from the Mid-West”… When Berle asked him if he thought Castro was saving Cuba, Jimenez answered, “No. Saving? I thought you said shaving”… 2008 Update: Bill Dana and wife Evie are living in Nashville, having departed the shores of Hawaii. He well recalls playing “Jose Jimenez,” having given the character its sendoff on the “Steve Allen Show.” And Norman Lear recalls the birth of the Jimenez character during the days of their Martha Raye show when they’d party at Imogene Coca’s country house on weekends. (Imogene was starring in “Your Show of Shows”) .Dana and Lear created showbiz history when Dana wrote the multi-Emmy-winning “Sammy’s Visit” seg of “All in the Family” in which Sammy Davis Jr. kissed “Archie Bunker” (Carroll O’Connor)…Dana recalls he and Milton Berle also performed at the Kennedy inaugural gala in D.C. “in a terrible snowstorm.” Dana says, “To me, to be with Milton Berle — Mr. TV! It was a thrill. He was a terrific guy. I went from delivering messages to producing his last show.” Over the decades, he has performed as “Jose, the super-sport” at Ethel Kennedy’s many events for the Special Olympics… After introducing the Jose Jimenez character on Allen’s show on Nov.16, 1959, he says he’d maintained friendships for years with Steve’s widow, Jayne Meadows and with Tom Poston, Don Knotts and Louis Nye. He and Don Adams also toiled together for years. And in recent years, Dana toured with these pals and comedic greats: Dick Cavett, Dick Gregory, Mort Sahl and Shelley Berman. He’s gathering these memories in his autobiog — and may also revive a column he wrote when living in Maui. His lead character was “Hugh Ray” — as in “Hugh Ray for Hollywood.” Sorry, Jose.