Morey Amsterdam was a famous actor best known for his time on the “Dick Van Dyke Show” as Buddy Sorrell. He worked on the show during its entire five-year run from 1961 to 1966. Even 21 years after his death, Morey is mourned by the countless fans he won over with his quick wit, funny jokes, and hysterical antics.
Morey was born on December 14, 1908, in Chicago, Illinois to Max Amsterdam and Jennie Finder, two Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary. Morey is the youngest of their three sons and the only one who went on to become a famous actor or comedian. Morey got his start in show business when he was only 14 years old when he worked in a vaudeville act with his older brother.
By the time he was 16, Morey found himself working in a speakeasy run by the infamous Al Capone. When a gunfight erupted, and Morey found himself in the middle of it, he decided to move to California and try his hand at becoming famous. It wasn’t long before his humorous attitude, and ability to make a joke out of any situation led to him getting the nickname, “The Human Joke Machine.”
In 1948, Morey was lucky enough to get a show of his very own, “The Morey Amsterdam Show.” It ran on CBS from December, 1948 to March, 1949 and then moved to DuMont from April, 1949 until it ended in 1950. In 1950, he was given the opportunity to host the first ever late-night entertainment show, “Broadway Open House,” and paved the way for “The Tonight Show.” Originally, the program was to be hosted by Don Hornsby, but after he passed away from polio two weeks before the show was launched, Morey Amsterdam and Jerry Lester took turns hosting until Morey stepped back and Jerry became the only host.
Between his time hosting Broadway Open House and his time on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Morey worked on 24 other projects including “Not For Publication,” “Gunsmoke,” and “Beach Party.” He auditioned for the role of Buddy Sorrell at the insistence of his good friend, Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The Buddy character was fashioned after Mel Brooks!
During his life, Morey was married twice. His first marriage was to Mabel Todd, to whom he was married from 1933 to 1945. In 1949, he married Kay Patrick who was the love of his life. Together, they had two children, Gregory and Catherine. The two remained married until he passed away on October 27, 1996, from a heart attack at a hospital near their Los Angeles home. Even though he passed away at the age of 87, we can’t help but wish we’d gotten many more years of laughter from this amazing comedian.