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Phil Silvers: One Cool Cat

With the advent of Mary Magpie's new kitten, Lunchy, and Mary's subsequent Kitten Playlist, the top song "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" put me in mind of the man who voiced it: one of the funniest men who ever lived, Phil Silvers. Why? well, actually because I misread Phil Harris name as Phil Silvers!!

Phil Harris played the cool jazz cat in the Aristocrats, Phil Silvers the lead in his eponymous TV show aka Sgt Bilko. A few years ago I bought the entire series on DVD and watched it back to back: Bilko plays a Sergeant at a Stateside Army base who is always gambling, breaking the rules and raising havoc -though that lame description doesn't begin to do him justice. Nobody has ever used a charming smile to deadlier effect and nobody has had troops more loyal to him. It was one of the greatest shows ever and spawned Top Cat the way the Honeymooners spawned the Flinstones.

Silvers joined the Vaudeville circuit at the age of eleven and never looked back, known as "The King Of Chutzpah", he moved from vaudeville to musical theater and eventually movies and television.

I've seen him in many movies, those I particularly loved him in "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" as a mean and very funny, what else, con man. Who gets Jonathan Winters to share that he is on a treasure hunt and then leaves Jonathan stranded. Oooh, and in "A Funny Thing Happened To Me On the Way To The Forum" as a brothel owner…

But not Thomas O'Malley in the Aristocats (Eva Gabor played the Aristocat in question).

Silvers was an all round threat, old time Vaudeville guy and yet so completely unique. A true great. It is a pleasure to salute him.

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