Jews in Television: 1950s & 1960s

From Milton Berle to Dick Van Dyke.

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Dick Van Dyke Show

No sitcom history better illustrates the wariness of TV executives about televising Jews than the highly acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran on CBS from 1961 to 1966. Although comedian Carl Reiner had written the pilot for a show based on his own life as a New York TV writer (originally called Head of the Family). CBS bought it on the condition that he recast the lead with a less ethnic actor to make it more "accessible" to the general public.

Dick Van Dyke was cast as the writer, Rob Petrie, while Reiner, who directed the show, was cast as his boss, Alan Brady, an Irishman, Although there was one Jewish character on the show, Buddy, played by Morey Amsterdam, it was not until the final season of the show that Buddy celebrated his long delayed bar mitzvah on network television.

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Joyce Antler

Joyce Antler is the Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture at Brandeis University.