Joe Silver; Actor Had Parts in 1,000 TV Shows in Career of Almost 50 Years

Times Staff Writer

Joe Silver, a former shoe salesman whose craggy features and sepulchral voice were seen and heard in more than 1,000 TV shows and on hundreds of commercial voice-overs and radio spots in a career that spanned nearly 50 years, died Monday of liver cancer.

He was 66 and died at a New York City hospital. He was a resident of Manhattan.

Silver’s last Broadway appearance was as the gangster Arnold Rothstein in the musical “Legs Diamond” in the current Broadway season.

Born in Chicago, Silver started work as a hospital orderly and shoe salesman and studied at the American Theater Wing in New York City in 1946-47.


He made his Broadway debut in 1942 as Jeeter Lester’s son-in-law in “Tobacco Road” and later appeared in New York in such shows as “Nature’s Way,” (1957), “Gypsy” (1959), “The Zulu and the Zayda” (1965), “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running” (1967) and “Lenny” (1971). Off Broadway he was seen in “The Homecoming,” “Cold Storage” and most recently “Old Business” at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater.

In “Lenny,” the story of comedian Lenny Bruce, Silver played nine roles and was nominated for a Tony award for best supporting actor.

He also appeared in more than 1,000 television shows beginning in 1947 as a panelist on “What’s It Worth?” He also was in Red Buttons’ TV series in the early 1950s and played Lee Grant’s husband on “Fay,” a 1975-76 NBC series. He also created the character of Captain Jet on the children’s series “Space Funnies.”

Silver’s films included “Klute,” “Switching Channels,” “The Gig,” “Almost You,” “Rhinoceros” and “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.”


He is survived by his wife, actress Chevi Colton, a son and a daughter, all of New York.