Johnny Silver





4/16/1918 , East Chicago, Indiana



Birth Name

John Silverman




Johnny Silver was best known for his signature role as Benny Southstreet in the original broadway cast and film cast of Frank Loesser's musical "Guys and Dolls". Born in East Chicago Indiana, April 16, 1918, to poor Hungarian immigrants in a family of 5 brothers and one sister. At the age of 8, he already had an amazing gift in his beautiful singing voice and won a supermarket singing contest, in which the prize was a week's supply of groceries and a chance to sing on the local radio. Johnny became a regular addition to the radio station's entertainment and from there, his career soared. Johnny's family moved to California when he was 14 and he continued his schooling around the L.A. area, receiving scholarships in the Arts for his singing, performing in and directing countless operas and musicals at L.A.City College with other sprouts that rooted such as George London, Brian Sullivan & John Raitt.

When WWII began, Johnny was drafted and sent to Texas. There, he created a group of performers from the bored and lonely soldiers in his troop, including a then unknown young tenor, Mario Lanza. Under Johnny's direction, they put on shows and musicals for the other soldiers until the war ended. Now good pals, Lanza and Silver moved to New York to pursue their careers in music and acting. In 1946, Johnny met the lovely and talented Gloria Manos (actress 1924 - 1993) who was to become his wife in 1954. Together in New York, Johnny & Gloria wrote, directed and performed plays and musicals at the Old Nickerbocker Playhouse with up and coming talents such as Gene Barry, Cloris Leachman, Jack Lemmon, Jack Cassidy and others.

In 1950, an old army buddy, Frank Loesser remembered Johnny's talent and character and cast him in the role of Benny Southstreet, in his new musical "Guys & Dolls". The giant hit musical ran for 3 years on Broadway, then went to London for the first Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II. In 1954 Hollywood decided to re-create the play in film. Johnny and Gloria then moved to California where they worked and lived and raised two daughters, Stephanie (actress/singer) and Jennifer (singer/songwriter).

Johnny Silver had a full and diverse career in film and television and commercials for 47 years. He also performed live with a variety act called "Johnny Silver and his Dolls" all over the country. Film credits include: "Guys & Dolls", "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed", "The Great Race", "Lepke", Spaceballs", "History of the World, Part 1" and many more. In the 60's and 70's, Johnny was considered the most used character actor of early television. He play numerous roles in "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "The Odd Couple", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The Red Skelton Show", "Lucille Ball Show" "Kolchak" and even "Seinfeld", to name a few.

Throughout his career, Johnny Silver performed in directed musicals in actors workshops, taught voice to children and adults, and was a devoted and loving husband and father. Always known for his delightful sense of humor and baritone laugh, Johnny made fast friends everywhere he went. He was an avid poker player and lover of dogs of all breeds.