R.I.P. Warren Berlinger, frequent Happy Days guest star and Joey Bishop Show funnyman
He memorably received a heart transplant on 'Emergency!' and raced in 'The Cannonball Run.'
Some sources erroneously note that Warren Berlinger was the nephew of Milton Berle, who born Mendel Berlinger in Harlem. While Warren was born just over the river in Brooklyn, it seems that he only shared a sense of humor, Big Apple roots, and Jewish heritage with Milton.
Berlinger had a particular knack for military comedy. The actor's breakout role came in the 1960 film The Wackiest Ship in the Army. He played Radioman 2nd Class A.J. Sparks, alongside stars Jack Lemmon and Ricky Nelson. In the late 1970s, Berlinger once again enlisted in a lighthearted Navy comedy, the TV series Operation Petticoat. He was even a laughter-eliciting Marine on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., as an expectant father in "Proxy Poppas."
Even Happy Days cast Berlinger as a comedic military man, a short-tempered sergeant barking orders at the Fonz in "The Physical." It was one of five appearances on Happy Days for the actor, as he also played a DJ, a movie director, a doctor, and an ad man on the series.
Berlinger had several starring roles on sitcoms of his own. He was the brother of Joey Bishop and sister of Marlo Thomas on The Joey Bishop Show (1961). The Funny Side, an ensemble series poking fun at marital tropes, cast him as the generic "Blue-Collar Husband." He was the son of Shirley Booth (Hazel) in her short-lived series A Touch of Grace.
MeTV fans might know Berlinger best for two particularly small but memorable roles. He rode a motorcycle with Bert Convy in The Cannonball Run. And on Emergency!, he turned up as a heart-transplant patient in "The Inspection."
A regular on Broadway, as well, Berlinger passed away on December 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 83.