Growing up, my mother and her siblings cackled about “Uncle Miltie’s Huge Dick” way too often. That’s part of the beauty of having a big family: There’s enough of you that all of your jokes, references and memories become a universe of their own, cherished deeply and repeated often. And in their universe, the allegedly colossal cock of Uncle Miltie (aka famous comic and early TV legend Milton Berle) was like Jupiter — by far the largest planet in the solar system, but one whose existence they had to take on faith and/or science.
Anyway, when I recently asked my family to expound on their obsession with Uncle Miltie’s dick, they didn’t have much to say. My Aunt Molly told me she watched him on TV her whole life, but never knew about what was happening in his pants until she was a teenager. “I don’t remember how exactly I found out… But what about Rodney Dangerfield’s balls?” she wrote over text, quickly changing subjects. “Ask me about those. I saw them!”
Apparently, she once witnessed Dangerfield’s testicles spilling outside his shorts while sitting near the beach in Santa Monica.
But we already covered Rodney Dangerfield’s balls: “Anyone who spent any private time with Rodney saw them,” comic Harry Basil, who opened for Dangerfield in Vegas for 10 years, told my colleague C. Brian Smith in Brian’s oral history of Back to School. “He was only comfortable in a bathrobe, but he never tied it shut all the way and never wore underwear. So the boys kinda hung out to catch some air. They were exceptionally low-hanging, like a grandfather clock.”
And as I reminded my aunt, I wanted to talk about Uncle Miltie, not Rodney. Namely: What’s the history of Milton Berle getting so much attention for his gigantic dick?
While it’s impossible to pin down the origin of this beloved gossip, I did find some interesting tidbits about how it became common lore. And yes, in today’s cultural climate, big dicks can be offensive, scary and generally condescending — most especially legendary ones. But still, being remembered for your member is worth talking about.
1) First, a quick refresher on Berle the Man, who was much more than a major cock: He got his start as a child actor in silent films after winning an amateur talent contest (his talent was impersonating Charlie Chaplin.) He quickly became part of the Vaudeville theater tradition that was favored in the U.S. throughout the 1930s. After his show Texaco Star Theater premiered in 1948, television set sales doubled. Supposedly, he angered audiences multiple times for inviting black talent to appear on his show, one of the better parts of his reputation. Worse is his reputation for stealing jokes, which he basically owned up to, once telling The New York Times: “Like every comedian, if I heard a joke that I thought would work, I used it.” Upon losing Texaco and then Buick as sponsors, Berle’s show ended for good in 1955, after which a younger generation began knowing him as the older man who appeared on roasts and in weird guest spots on shows like Batman and The Love Boat.
2) He never shot any sex scenes, but still, word of his giant dick got around. “He was certainly super hung. Marilyn Monroe said he had the biggest cock in Hollywood and had her best sex with him,” one commenter wrote on LSPG, a shitty message board whose brand identity I’m unsure of even after careful investigation. “She singles him out even though she had sex with quite a few well hung men.”
The two supposedly met in 1948 on set of Ladies of the Chorus and later starred in Let’s Make Love together in 1960. Truman Capote, one of the hottest gossipers of all time, quoted Monroe as saying, “Christ! Everybody says Milton Berle has the biggest schlong in Hollywood,” which doesn’t exactly cop to them copulating, but only because she was talking about him in comparison to Errol Flynn’s ability to literally serenade women with his dick:
“Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Errol Flynn whip out his prick and play the piano with it? Oh well, it was a hundred years ago, I’d just got into modeling, and I went to this half-ass party, and Errol Flynn, so pleased with himself, he was there and he took out his prick and played the piano with it. Thumped the keys. He played ‘You Are My Sunshine.’”
3) Another commenter on the same message board was more frustrated with Berle’s hot-and-cold relationship to copping up to his own cock size:
“The thing that pisses me off about celebrities with ‘huge dicks’ is this… Behind closed doors they talk shit and can’t seem to put it away… But when asked a simple question in an interview like ‘Are you well endowed? There are rumors of that going around,’ they get all sensitive and act like some fuckin’ punks. But the night before the whole night revolved around the chosen celebrities dick! I’m only bringing this up cause I remember when Milton would go on the Howard Stern show and Howard would ask him and Milton would get pissed. The same shit happened with Julia Roberts when she was asked about Leaim Neesian [sic]… She got pissed off. But yet she’s be reported to be in Hollywood circles just cracking all types of jokes and laughing about his pipe! What the fuck?”
4) This guy raises a good point. You either cop to the peen or you don’t. But with Berle, his transparency about about his dick seemed to be more mood-dependent. As he was more than happy to discuss it in this late-in-life interview: “Are you talking about my endowment? I’ve had a little success with it, even recently at 88. So I guess it’s true. All I know, is that when I get an erection, I black out.”
5) It is true that on Stern, he was less forthcoming. Probably because he knew Stern operated with few rules — so giving him even a few inches to work with would entice Stern to take a mile’s worth of dick jokes. Same for his body count. Case in point: When Stern asked Berle if he banged Marilyn Monroe, Berle responded, “Yeah, Betsy Ross too.” Stern goes on to beg Berle to spill the beans on Monroe, but Berle assures Stern he doesn’t “kiss and tell — he kisses and leaves.”
6) Berle appeared on Stern’s show a second time and was subjected to even more nonconsensual dick talk. Stern writes about the encounter in his book Private Parts:
“His publicist Gary warned that we shouldn’t deal with the ‘penis thing.’
“‘Here comes Milton Berle into the studio,’ I announced. ‘Mr. Berle, every inch a gentleman, by the way, if I may say so. The last time you were on everyone said to me, ‘But Howard, you didn’t ask him about his weenie.’
“‘Oh stop, that’s terrible,’ Berle protested.
“‘I have always maintained that you and Forrest Tucker had the biggest ones in the business. Man, it’s got to be great to have a big one,’ I went on. ‘You know, when they circumcised Uncle Miltie, they threw more away in the pan than I have. Doesn’t it make life easier for you? You don’t have to put that much effort into it. I have to do stuff to my wife just to get her excited. Your wife must be like, ‘Oh my God, this is unbelievable.’’
“Milton wanted to drop the subject.
“‘Yeah, it’s easy for you to be humble, when you’ve got a thermos in your pants,’ I snickered.
“I asked Uncle Milton if he’d be so kind as to take phone calls from my audience. What he didn’t know is that I had Gary prescreen the callers and set him up with penis questions. The first caller came on.
“‘Listen Uncle Miltie, when you get aroused, have you ever fainted from all the blood rushing into your tool?’
“‘Very funny,’ Berle said.
“‘You see? People are genuinely interested in the size of your genitals. Uncle Miltie, don’t deny this aspect of show business.’”
7) Berle may have hated the rumors, but it seemed as though he would’ve hated even more for anyone to think they weren’t true. As former SNL writer Alan Zweibel wrote in his own account of dealing with Berle’s dick in this SNL anthology:
“Milton Berle took a liking to me and gravitated to me, I think because in the early 1970s I had written all these jokes for Catskill comics. And I wrote jokes for a lot of the Friars Club roasts, where Uncle Miltie was usually the roastmaster. You played to people’s stereotypes with those jokes — Jack Benny was the cheap one and so on. With Berle, all I had known was he wore a dress on TV and supposedly stole everybody’s jokes. And also I learned early on that he was the guy with the big dick, one of the biggest in show business. So I started writing big dick jokes about him for these Friars roasts.
“Now fast-forward a few years, and I’m in Milton Berle’s dressing room at Saturday Night Live. He’s sitting on a couch behind a coffee table, and he’s wearing a very short kind of bathrobe, the kind that comes down to about midthigh. Somehow I just say to him, ‘You know, it’s so weird that I’m here talking to you, because for years I was writing jokes about your dick.’ I said, ‘I wrote all these jokes about your cock and now I’m talking to you I feel like there’s some violation or something here.’
“He says to me: ‘You mean you never saw it?’ I said, ‘Uh, no, I don’t believe I did.’ Then he said, ‘Well, would you like to?’ And before I had a chance to say, ‘Not really’ or ‘Can I think about it?’ or whatever, he parts his bathrobe and he just takes out this anaconda. He lays it on the table and I’m looking into this thing, right? I’m looking into the head of Milton Berle’s dick. It was enormous. It was like a pepperoni. And he goes, ‘What do you think of the boy? And I’m looking right at it and I go, ‘Oh, its really, really nice.’
“At which point Gilda [Radner] opens the door to the dressing room. Its like an I Love Lucy sketch, but this honestly happened! She opens the door to his dressing room just in time to see me looking into his dick saying, ‘Yeah, its really, really nice.”
8) My childhood crush, Ian Ziering, aka Steve Sanders from the original 90210, had a similar story, as published in the “outsider” Hollywood memoir You Never Ate Lunch in This Town To Begin With. Here’s what the book’s author, Nicholas Kolya, wrote:
“I know a guy who does voiceovers. He told me that once he was dubbing some cartoon with Ian Ziering, of Beverly Hills: 90210, who told him a brief tale about the legendary big dick man Milton Berle.
“It seems that Uncle Miltie was appearing in an episode of Ian’s preachy nighttime soap opera. Boring theme for the week: Alzheimer’s disease. Wait, I forgot where I was going with this. Hahahaha! Anyway, the two were feeding each other lines in rehearsal, when Ian dropped his [scripts]. As he bent to retrieve them, the feisty octogenarian grabbed him by the back of the head, forcefully pulling him towards his crotch. He shouted maniacally, ‘Go ahead, take a look at it! You’ve heard the rumors! Get an eyeful!’”
10) He was talking about this episode of the show, by the way.
11) Gilbert Gottfried loves talking about Uncle Miltie’s dick, too. “You have no idea how many times Uncle Miltie’s schlong has come up on this show,” his co-host quips in this episode, in which Gottfried manages to make a joke about President Kennedy’s death involving Miltie’s…. Equipment.
12) This one is Hollywood folklore, from a source that can’t be named. (Chic, right?) Apparently, some decades ago, a bunch of TV folks hosted a surprise birthday party for Uncle Miltie. They greeted him in a dark room with a candlelit cake, and at least according to this trusted source, when the lights came back on, Berle had stuck the big, birthday candle in his penis as a gag.
13) Upon Berle’s death in 2002, The New Yorker published an obit that recapped some of the Friars Club jokes about Berle’s penis:
“‘I have a funny feeling I should be wearing a dress with my two front teeth blacked out,’ Freddie Roman said. He paused and gave the audience a look suggesting that big mischief was on the way. ‘We are here to honor Milton Berle, who passed away on March 27th,’ he went on. ‘On May 1st and May 2nd, his penis will be buried.’ The laughter was long and knowing. Dozens more Milton Berle penis jokes followed. Friar Bob Melvin said, ‘I saw him sink a four-foot putt with his penis.’”
14) For others, like Berle’s son William, the BFD reputation was less charming. William was adopted, so despite the famous last name and its reputation, he didn’t exactly mirror his dad below the belt, much to the dismay of the women he bedded. To compensate, he brags needlessly about his own sexual bravado (if not size) in his 1999 memoir My Father, Uncle Miltie.
15) If any contemporary celebrity wants to come for Uncle Miltie’s reputation, they’re going to have to not assault anyone. Today’s Famous Big Dick will have to share it consensually, or perhaps, put it to use through full-on nudity (not leaving the on-screen naked stuff to his female costar). Maybe a lifestyle blogger or male model can become the Uncle Miltie of Instagram. A few hashtags free for the taking: #freethedick, #letithang #liberatedshaft.
16) Until then, here’s a full record of one of Stern’s infamous conversations with Berle: