Before even touching the world of comedy, Bill Dana had many adventures. Born William Szathmary in Massachusetts, he grew up during the 1930s during The Great Depression. As he came of age, he served in the United States Army and fought in World War II, where he earned a Bronze Star Medal for his service. Returning from war, Dana attended Emerson College, where he graduated in 1950 and then slowly started his comedic career. He was a page at NBC while he performed comedy throughout New York. In 1954, he landed his first writing job on a TV show with "The Imogene Coca Show" (NBC 1954-55), which soon led to "The Steve Allen Show" (NBC 1956-1960) and "The Spike Jones Show" (NBC 1954, CBS 1957-1961). He debuted his trademark character Jose Jimenez on "The Steve Allen Show" in 1960, and the popular comedic role eventually led to his very own sitcom: "The Bill Dana Show" (NBC 1963-65). Throughout all of this, Dana also released several comedy albums, both as himself and his Jose Jimenez persona. He continued appearing as Jose in a variety of shows across the '60s and '70s, even showing up on "Batman" (ABC 1966-68) in a humorous cameo. Later in his career, he co-wrote and appeared in the Get Smart movie "The Nude Bomb" (1980) and was a recurring character on shows such as "The Golden Girls" (NBC 1985-1992) and "St. Elsewhere" (NBC 1982-88). Dana founded the American Comedy Archives in 2005, featuring material and interviews with comedians from the past. He passed away in June 2017 at the age of 92 at his home in Nashville.
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Landed first writing gig on "The Imogene Coca Show"
Became the head writer of "The Steve Allen Show"
Originated the role of Jose Jimenez on "The Spike Jones Show"
Reprised Jose Jimenez character on "The Bill Dana Show"
Again reprised Jose Jimenez character on "The Hollywood Palace"
Voiced the White Knight on TV movie "Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?"
Co-wrote and appeared in the "Get Smart!" movie "The Nude Bomb"
Played Mr. Plitzky on "No Soap, Radio"
Had a recurring role as Angelo on "The Golden Girls"
Final screen role as Nathan on an episode of "Empty Nest"