They’re Playing Our Song: Milton Berle And Aimee Semple Mcpherson, “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”

Milton Berle, 1930

Milton Berle, 1930

I love odd and unlikely couples. Mr. Television, AKA Uncle Miltie, had a two time hook-up in 1930 with the female Jimmy Swaggart of the Flapper Era, Evangelist Aimee Semple Mcpherson. Later, Berle admitted in his 1975 memoir, “I never saw or heard from Aimee Semple McPherson again. But whenever I hear “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”,’ I remember her. –Milton Berle, 1975.

from MILTON BERLE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY –

…”In 1930, I took “Chasin’ the Blues,” a girl-studded flash act, out on the Orpheum Circuit. I was at the RKO Hill Street in Los Angeles the week there was a big charity show at the Shrine Auditorium. Every name act in town was asked to appear along with every movie star who gave a damn about something beside him or herself. The huge auditorium was filled, and backstage was like a sardine can packed with the world’s most expensive sardines. Only one person stood alone, a woman well into her forties who wasn’t half as beautiful as most of the movie names backstage. But there was something special about her. I felt it, and I didn’t even know who she was, though her face looked familiar. It wasn’t her dyed blond hair-there were lots of dyed blonds around-and it wasn’t her dress, which didn’t compare with some of the gowns the stars were wearing. It was something in the calm, sure way she stood-head up, back straight-waiting to go on.
I pointed to her, and whispered to somebody standing next to me, “Who is that?”
The guy looked at me as if I were a hermit who had just come out of the hills. “Aimee Semple McPherson.” Milton Berle, 1975

… “decided were good Early American antiques, and very little else. No pictures on the walls, very little on the tables besides lamps.
Aimee was still in the bedroom. “You’re not a very religious man, are you, Milton?”
It was the first time she had ever gotten near her field of work while talking to me.
I didn’t know how to answer her. “Well, not the way you are.”
“I know what you mean,” she said, “but I don’t quite see myself that way. I work in the area of religion, but I think of myself more as a scientist and a crusader.”
“Why did you ask about me?”
“I was just thinking,” she said, and the light went out in the bedroom, “that unless you were really interested, perhaps a visit to my Temple could wait for a cooler day.”
The door opened, and there was Sister Aimee in a very thin, pale blue negligee, her braid undone and her blond hair hanging down around her shoulders. There was a soft flickering light somewhere behind her in the bedroom-candles, I guessed-and it was enough to show, me that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. “Come in” was all she said.
It was candles all right. Two of them on the night table by the bed, which she had already turned down. They were burning in front of a silver crucifix that stood before a triptych panel of the scene on Calvary. That started my nerves going again, but I solved the problem. I decided not to face that way when we got into bed.
We never got to the Four Square Gospel Temple.
And we didn’t get there two days later, when she called again. This time, she just sent the chauffeur for me to bring me straight to the apartment. We didn’t even bother with lunch. When I was dressing to leave, she stuck out her hand. “Good luck with your show, Milton. What the hell. I couldn’t resist. “Good luck with yours, Aimee.” I never saw or heard from Aimee Semple McPherson again. But whenever I hear “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”,’ I remember her.”–Milton Berle Autobiography, 1975


     

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