Shelley Berman

D.O.B: Feb 03, 1925 |  Chicago, Illinois, USA

9Credit Score

Shelley Berman began studying acting shortly after he was honorably discharged from the US navy. He enrolled as a drama student at Chicagos Goodman Theater, where he met Sarah Herman, another aspiring thespian.

Biography

Shelley Berman began studying acting shortly after he was honorably discharged from the US navy. He enrolled as a drama student at Chicagos Goodman Theater, where he met Sarah Herman, another aspiring thespian. They fell in love and were married in 1947. After graduating from the Goodman Theater, Shelley joined the Woodstock Players, a stock theater company in Woodstock, IL. It was here that he had the opportunity to really develop and polish his acting skills, with the support and encouragement of fellow players Geraldine Page, Betsy Palmer and Tom Bosley. Leaving Woodstock in 1949, Shelley and Sarah made their way across the country, with Shelley in search of acting work. When those jobs were scarce, he worked as a social director, a cab driver, a speech teacher, an assistant manager at a drug store and an instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. While in New York Shelley found work as a sketch writer for The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956), and was doing well when he received an invitation to join an improvisational troupe known as The Compass Players, which took him back home to Chicago. With Compass (which later evolved into Second City) Shelley worked with soon-to-be famous performers Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Severn Darden and Barbara Harris, among others. While performing improvised sketches with the Compass Players, Shelley began developing solo pieces, employing an imaginary telephone to take the place of an onstage partner. While watching Mort Sahl perform at Mr. Kellys in Chicago in 1957, Shelley realized he didnt necessarily have to tell traditional jokes, as other comedians of the day did, in order to work in nightclubs and went on to audition at the club, performing his one-man monologues and telephone routines with great success.