Schreiber with Fozzie Bear on The Muppet Show
Younger generations knew
Avery Schreiber for his work on a series of popular Doritos corn chip
ads in a sundry of disguises (chef, sultan, pilot), all of them
perturbed by people loudly crunching on the popular snack.
Avery Schreiber (April 9th,
1935 to January 7th, 2002) was an American comedian and actor, a
veteran of stage, television, and film. Schreiber started his career
in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre.
He joined The Second City,
where he met and later teamed with Jack Burns to form the comedy team
of Burns and Schreiber (pictured below).
They recorded several
comedy albums and appeared on numerous television shows.
Burns was the slimmer,
chatty, clean-cut, dunderhead and Schreiber was his Oliver Hardy
counterpart who bore the brunt of Burns' verbal drone.
Schreiber was the rumpled,
gap-toothed, hefty-sized master of the slow boil and stood out among
the crowd with his huge trademark walrus mustache, thick thatch of
curly black hair, slim teddy bear eyes and mischievous grin.
the pair became a staple of TV variety shows, mainstays on such
classic entertainment as "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The
Dean Martin Show" and "The Hollywood Palace."
Breaking up once in 1968
because they felt stale, Burns and Schreiber reteamed for a time in
1972, but split again later when Burns decided to leave the limelight
and devote himself exclusively to writing.
In 1976, former partner
Burns led the writing team for The Muppet Show's first season;
Schreiber made an appearance as the guest star of episode 116.
At age 17 Schreiber
enlisted in the Armed Services and eventually became a part of the
All-Army Talent Show. This satisfaction of putting on variety shows
and entertaining prompted his move into a career of comedy. Winning a
scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse, he instead decided to stay
closer to home and attend night school at the University of Chicago
while studying his craft at the Goodman Theatre.
A cabaret show brought him
to the attention of the renown improv troupe Second City in 1960,
where he remained for five years developing sketches and characters.
Among the routines Avery developed during his years at Second City
was the "samurai landlord". John Belushi would later make
the routine famous on Saturday Night Live (1975) with his samurai
warrior taking various occupations.
Jack Paar first introduced
"Burns & Schreiber" to TV on his "Tonight
Show" program in 1964. The duo's most identifiable skit was the
"taxi cab" routine with Avery as a beleaguered cabbie at
the mercy of Burns' relentlessly gabby and nonsensical customer, with
Burns punctuating every conversation with a repeated "Huh?...Huh?...Huh?"
Political satire was also a
strong, popular platform for Schreiber both with Burns (the album
"The Watergate Comedy Hour") and without. Schreiber was at
his very best skewering politicos. Both trained actors, they also
gave each other the freedom to work solo. Burns would repeat as
Deputy Warren Ferguson on The Andy Griffith Show (1960) for a time
and Schreiber was a regular as the broadly villainous Captain Mancini
on My Mother the Car (1965). At their peak, they appeared as regulars
on the summer replacement musical variety series Our Place (1967),
then earned the right to front their own summer series with The Burns
and Schreiber Comedy Hour (1973).
Selected Avery Schreiber TVography
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
- voice work (1988)
- voice work (1993 - 1995)
Chico and the Man
- The Misfortune Teller (1975)
- Play Gypsy (1975)
- Linda Quits (1999)
- Beach Blanket Blossom (1994)
The Doris Day Show
- Kidnapped (1970)
- Duck to the Future (voice work, 1987)
The Dukes of Hazzard
- Double Sting (1979)
The Fall Guy
- Losers Weepers (1984)
- The Curse of the Moreaus/My Man Friday (1982)
- The Worst Best Man (1968 below left)
The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
- The Firehouse Five Plus Ghost (1969)
Love, American Style
- Love and the Advice Givers (1969)
- Love and the Perfect Wife (1972)
- Love and the Opera Singer (1973)
The Love Boat -
- Marooned/The Search/Isaac's Holiday (1978)
- Santa, Santa, Santa/Another Dog Gone Christmas/Noel's
Christmas Carol (1984)
- Fifth Man in a String Quartet (1972)
More Wild Wild West (TV Movie 1980)
- And Baby Makes Four (1969)
My Mother the Car - as Capt. Manzini (12 episodes, 1965-1966)
The Muppet Show
- guest star (1976 below right)
The Rockford Files
- Rattlers' Class of '63 (1976)
- Mission Improbable (1969)
- Counter Proposal (1970)
Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats
- voice work (1987)
The Twilight Zone
- Act Break/The Burning Man/Dealer's
Selected Avery Schreiber Filmography
The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) with
The Concorde... Airport '79 (1979)
Cannonball Run II (1984)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
Schreiber kept close ties
to the stage throughout his career. Directing a Broadway revues and
performing at Second City. Schreiber also performed in productions of
"Hamlet," "Showboat" and "Fiddler on the
Roof." In addition to acting, Schreiber taught improv theater in
and out of his L.A.-based area. In 2003, the Avery Schreiber
Playhouse in North Hollywood, California was founded in his name.
In 1994, Schreiber suffered
a heart attack, aggravated by his diabetes. Although he survived
triple by-pass surgery, he never fully recovered and died died at age
66 in Los Angeles of a heart attack. He was survived by his wife of
40 years, Rochelle Isaacs, and their two children, Jenny and Joshua.