Morey Amsterdam

Morey Amsterdam Headshot

Comedian • Writer • Producer

Birth Date: December 14, 1908

Death Date: October 27, 1996

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois

This short, fast-talking comic of TV and nightclubs gained his biggest fame as comedy writer Buddy Sorrell on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS, 1961-66). Known as The Human Joke Machine, Amsterdam began his career as a cellist, then entered vaudeville with his brother. While performing, he penned jokes for such stars as Fanny Brice and Will Rogers, and co-wrote such songs as "Rum and Coca-Cola" and "Why Oh Why Did I Ever Leave Wyoming?." He was also a screenwriter for MGM and for various radio shows. By the late 1940s, Amsterdam was writing gags for himself, appearing on three daily series in 1947 alone (he once did 75 shows in one week). He also wrote political gags for Presidents Roosevelt, Johnson and Reagan.

Amsterdam started in TV early, when his CBS radio series, "The Morey Amsterdam Show" was transferred to the small screen in 1948. He also loaned his talents to such comedy and quiz shows as "Stop Me If You've Heard This One" (NBC, 1948), "Broadway Open House" (NBC, 1950), "Can You Top This?" (ABC, 1950-51), "Battle of the Ages" (CBS, 1952), "Who Said That?" (NBC, 1954) and "Keep Talking" (CBS, 1958-60). Amsterdam made his debut as a dramatic actor on a 1952 segment of "Not for Publication" (Dumont).

But it was "The Dick Van Dyke Show" that brought Amsterdam lasting fame. He and Rose Marie, as Van Dyke's co-workers, brought a fast-paced vaudeville sensibility to the modern suburban sitcom. Insulting Mel (Richard Deacon) or his wife Pickles, or thinking up on-the-spot gags, Buddy Sorrell was a high point of the show. He also one of the first openly Jewish TV characters (in one episode, Buddy treated himself to a belated Bar Mitzvah).

His film career was spotty at best. Amsterdam wrote the screenplay for "The Ghost and the Guest" (1943) and made small appearances in such films as "It Came from Outer Space" (1953), "Machine Gun Kelly" (1958), "Murder, Inc." (1960), "Beach Party" (1963) and "Muscle Beach Party" (1964), and "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1968). He also wrote and appeared in the comedy "Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title" (1966) and had a bit part in the thriller "Sandman" (1992). In later years, Amsterdam appeared on "The Hollywood Squares" (NBC, 1966-81), "Comedy Break" (syndicated, 1985), the daytime soap "The Young and the Restless" (CBS, 1989-90, as a kidnapper), "First and Ten: In Your Face!" (HBO, 1990) and "Comic Relief" (HBO, 1992). He executive produced a 1970 revival of the show "Can You Top This?" (syndicated) and kept busy on the nightclub and college circuit. He was last seen with "Van Dyke" co-star Rose Marie on an episode of NBC's "Caroline in the City" in 1996.

Credits

The Dick Van Dyke Show -- Now in Living Color!

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Show
2021

The Dick Van Dyke Show -- Now in Living Color! A Special Tribute to Carl Reiner

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Show
2020

The Dick Van Dyke Show -- Now in Living Color!

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Show
2018

The Dick Van Dyke Show -- Now in Living Color!

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Show
2017

The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now in Living Color!

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Show
2016

Caroline in the CityStream

Guest Star
Series
1995

CybillStream

Guest Star
Series
1995

1st & Ten: In Your Face

Guest Star
Joe
Show
1990

Side by Side

Actor
Moe
Movie
1988

Fame

Guest Star
Series
1982

The Littlest HoboStream

Guest Star
Series
1979

The Comedy ShopStream

Guest
Series
1978

Fantasy Island

Guest Star
Series
1978

Mixed Nuts

Actor
Moe
Show
1977

Rudolph's Shiny New YearStream

Voice
One Million
Special
1976
50%

AliceStream

Guest Star
Series
1976

Honeymoon Suite

Actor
Bellboy
Movie
1973

The Partridge FamilyStream

Guest Star
Ziggy Shnurr
Series
1970

Love, American Style

Actor
Bodkin
Series
1969

One Man Show

Actor
Guest Host
Show
1969

The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit

Actor
Charlie Blake
Movie
1968

Celebrity Billiards

Self
Show
1967

The John Gary Show

Self
Show
1966

DaktariStream

Guest Star
Series
1966

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title

Actor
Charlie Yuckapuck
Movie
1966

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title

Producer
Movie
1966

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title

Screenwriter
Movie
1966

Muscle Beach Party

Actor
Cappy
Movie
1964

Beach PartyStream

Actor
Cappy
Movie
1963
50%

Gay Purr-ee

Narrator
Movie
1962

Mister Magoo's Christmas CarolStream

Voice
Brady/James
Movie
1962

The Dick Van Dyke ShowStream

Actor
Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell
Series
1961

Machine Gun Kelly

Actor
Michael Fandango
Movie
1958

Have Gun -- Will TravelStream

Guest Star
Series
1957

GunsmokeStream

Guest Star
Cicero Grimes
Series
1955

Marshal Dillon

Guest Star
Show
1955

It Came From Outer SpaceStream

Actor
Corporal getting out of first staff car at crash site (unconfirmed)
Movie
1953
81%

I've Got a SecretStream

Guest
Game Show
1952

Battle of the Ages

Host
Show
1952

Tag the Gag

Self
Panelist
Show
1951

The Sam Levenson Show

Self
Show
1951

Songs For Sale

Self
Judge
Show
1950

Broadway Open House

Host
Show
1950

What's My Line?Stream

Guest
Game Show
1950

The Ghost and the Guest

Screenwriter
Movie
1943

Hollywood Hobbies

Screenwriter
Movie
1939