Joe E. Ross (Joseph Roszawikz)
Photos with Joe E. Ross
BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
Gravel-voiced comedian Joe E. ("Oooh! Oooh!") Ross was born in Manhattan and began his career, ironically enough, as a singing waiter in speak-easy clubs. Comedy came into the forefront, however and he steadily built up his image as a stand-up and impressionist, announcing and emceeing at burlesque clubs and various niteries around and about the Schuster circuit out of Chicago in the late 1930s. He made his inauspicious film debut in the hotsy-totsy girlie show Teaserama (1955), which featured strippers Bettie Page and Tempest Storm and female impersonator Vicki Lynn. The underground flick had Ross doing his familiar baggy-pants burlesque schtick. Read more... 'break' came with the comedy flick Hear Me Good (1957), co-starring Hal March, but it went nowhere and did not invite other offers. The crevice-faced, roly-poly funnyman's greatest claim to fame would be on situation comedy television, first as a third banana to Phil Silvers on his popular late 1950s series "You'll Never Get Rich" (The Phil Silvers Show (1955) / "Sgt. Bilko") and in the cult hit series as "Officer Gunther Toody" in Car 54, Where Are You? (1961), opposite Fred Gwynne (famous as "Herman Munster"). Playing a typical dunderhead, it was Silvers himself, along with producer/partner Nat Hiken, who had discovered Ross while the floundering comedian, who was infamous for his "blue comedy" routines, was working at the Club Ciro in Miami Beach. It was Hiken who later gave the green light for Ross to co-star in the Car 54, Where Are You? (1961) show. His last series It's About Time (1966), in which he played a caveman named "Gronk" who, out of his element in modern times, opposite Imogene Coca, was short-lived. He fell out of favour after that and returned to the nightclub scene, appearing rather obscurely from time-to-time in shoddy, tasteless films with such dubious and promiscuous titles as: How to Seduce a Woman (1974); Linda Lovelace for President (1975); Slumber Party '57 (1976) and The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977). Ross died while on stage at the age of 68 and was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.