Gravel-voiced comedian Joe E. ("Oooh! Oooh!") Ross was born in Manhattan and began his career, ironically enough, as a singing waiter in speakeasy clubs. Comedy came to the forefront, however, and he steadily built up his image as a stand-up comic 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 film debut in the hotsy-totsy girlie show "Teaserama", 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. Another "break" came with the comedy "Hear Me Good", co-starring Hal March, but it went nowhere and did not result in 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" / "Sgt. Bilko") and in the cult hit series "Car 54, Where Are You?" as dim-bulb Officer Gunther Toody, opposite Fred Gwynne (famous as "Herman Munster") as the more serious Officer Francis Muldoon. Silvers himself had discovered Ross, who was infamous for his "blue comedy" routines, working at the Club Ciro in Miami Beach, and he and producer/partner Nat Hiken hired him for "Bilko" in the role of dunderhead Master Sgt. Rupert Ritzik. It was Hiken who later gave the green light for Ross to co-star in "Car 54".
Ross' last series was "It's About Time", in which he played a caveman named "Gronk" who was brought back to modern times with cavegirl Imogene Coca, but the series was critically blasted and short-lived. He fell out of favor after that and returned to the nightclub scene, appearing occasionally in shoddy, low-grade and obscure films with such tasteless and exploitative titles as "How to Seduce a Woman", "Linda Lovelace for President", "Slumber Party '57" and "The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington".
Joe E. Ross died while on stage at the age of 68 and was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.
Name: Joe E. Ross
Known for: Car 54, Where Are You?
BirthDay: 15, Mar ,1914