Maurice Lionel "Maury" Gosfield, who voiced little Benny the Ball on the 1961-62 H-B series Top Cat, was born in New York City on January 28, 1913 (he died there on October 19, 1964).
Gosfield was most famous for his portrayal of bumbling patsy Private Duane Doberman on the 1950s sitcom You'll Never Get Rich (later called The Phil Silvers Show).
Top Cat was partially based on the live-action series, also known as Sergeant Bilko. Benny the Ball was based on Gosfield's role in Bilko.
Raised in Philadelphia and later in Evanston, Illinois, Gosfield served in the U.S. Army's Tec 4 unit in the 8th Armored Division, gaining the rank of sergeant (not private!).
In 1955, Gosfield first appeared as Private Duane Doberman in the TV show You'll Never Get Rich; this was renamed The Phil Silvers Show in 1956.
On October 14, 1964, Gosfield was in a play at New York Theatre, when he kept losing his balance and repeatedly falling asleep. He was diagnosed as having critical hypertension, and put on seven different tablets for this, which he was told to take for the rest of his life. Three days later, he suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to New York Hospital, where he was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed.
He was admitted and his condition improved. As a result, Arnold Stang, who co-starred with Gosfield in Top Cat, told him that Hanna-Barbera was making a second season of the show, and that his role was waiting for him for when he recovered. But two hours after Stang left, Gosfield suffered a second and fatal heart attack, and died instantly, on the night of October 19, 1964. Stang was phoned the next morning to be told the news, and he broke it to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who were both devastated by Gosfield's sudden death.
After Gosfield died, Hanna-Barbera decided not to make a new season of Top Cat, as it couldn't find a good replacement for Benny the Ball's voice. Hanna commented that it was "a tragic loss." The Jetsons, which aired in Top Cat's place, sent a message after the latest episode: "IN LOVING MEMORY OF MAURICE GOSFIELD 1913-1964."
In the 1958 Looney Tune Dog Tales, the Doberman Pinscher pinches "Doberman," Gosfield's Bilko character.
"Oh boy." -- Allan Sherman
(This post was edited by eminovitz on Jan 31, 2013, 8:15 PM)
Re: Happy 100th birthday to Benny the Ball!
[In reply to]
Avery Schreiber played Benny The Ball's voice in the 1987 "Top Cat and The Beverly Hills Cats" movie for the "Hanna-Barbera Superstar 10" made for tv movie series.
Most of the original Top Cat cast reprised their roles: Arnold Stang as TC Marvin Kaplan as Choo Choo Leo De Lyon as Brain and Spook John Stephenson as Fancy Fancy and Officer Dibble, replacing Allen Jenkins who passed away in 1974.
Daw Butler played Top Cat's voice in the ABC Superstar Movie "Yogi's Ark Lark" which served as a pilot for the "Yogi's Gang" series. John Stephenson was credited in the Internet Movie Database as the voice of Benny The Ball...although he didn't sound like Stephenson when I saw it on television.
(This post was edited by artytoons on Jan 31, 2013, 8:06 PM)