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His real name was “Joseph Roszawikz,” and he was born in New York, educated at Seward Park High School in that city, and in 1930, at the age of 16, he left school and worked as a singing waiter at Van Cortlandt. Inn, in the Bronx, during his stay in this establishment he ended up becoming a comedian.
In 1938 he performed at Queens Terrace, near Jackson Heights, Queens, in New York. Jackie Gleason had worked there for 16 weeks, and the director wanted Gleason to stay with them. Ross took the opportunity, did a test, and got the contract, also staying 16 weeks. Ross later became a comic burlesque at the Schuster circuit in Chicago, Illinois.
His career was interrupted by World War II. He served in the United States Air Force at Camp Blanding, Florida, and was later sent to England.
After the war, Ross took the role of comedian advertiser at Billy Gray’s Bandbox in Hollywood. In 1955, Joe worked at a club in Miami Beach, Florida, called Club Ciro. There he was observed by Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers, who were planning a show called You’ll Never Get Rich (later known as The Phil Silvers Show), and were immediately delighted with Joe’s comedic talent. He was hired, and they gave him the role of Sergeant Rupert Ritzik.
After the completion of The Phil Silvers Show in 1959, Nat Hiken produced Car 54, Where Are You ?, and gave Ross what was to become his most famous role, that of Patrolman Gunther Toody of 53rd District of New York , along with actor Fred Gwynne.
Ross was Gronk in the 1966 series It’s About Time, produced by Sherwood Schwartz, which dealt with two American astronauts from the 1960s who traveled back in time to the prehistoric era.
Ross was also a voice actor in the seventies, working on cartoon series such as Hong Kong Phooey and Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch. His famous phrase “Ooh! Ooh!” It was emulated by Frank Welker in the Fangface cartoon series.
Joe E. Ross died on stage on August 13, 1982 in Los Angeles, California, at 68 years of age.
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