Born Charles Callias in Brooklyn, NY on December 20, 1927, he served in the US Army in Germany during World War 2.
Originally a drummer, he played with Tommy Dorsey, Claude Thornhill and Buddy Rich. He was always clowning around and would drive the band members crazy on the bus as they traveled. So much so, they suggested he should be a comedian. “He was just messing around with the guys and it worked, I guess” his son Mark said. Charlie was a natural comic, and it wasn’t long before he gave up drumming for stand-up routines. He dropped a vowel from his legal name, Callias, when he took to the stage in his first television appearance in 1963 on the “Hollywood Palace” variety show.
In 1967, he appeared on The Merv Griffin Show and had Jerry Lewis (another one of Merv’s guests) in hysterics so much so he told Merv that he had to use Charlie in his upcoming film “The Big Mouth”.
He was a regular on the Andy Williams Show and a semi-regular on the Flip Wilson and the Des O’Connor Variety Show; acted as co-host on the Joey Bishop Show.
In 1975, Callas co-starred, for three years, with Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert on the series “Switch.” His character used different disguises in most shows proving his versatility.
He made over 50 appearances on The Tonight Show, a popular favorite of Johnny’s until Sept 1982 when as part of his act he shoved Johnny off his chair. Carson told him in front of the audience that he would never appear on his show again, and he never did.
Callas had a rapid-fire humor that has tantalized audiences in nightclubs from coast to coast. Among his nightly appearances was a one-year tour of major engagements with Frank Sinatra, including the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Charlie has also appeared at the Hilton Hotels, Caesar’s Palace, The Sands Hotel, Flamingo Hilton, Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas; Harrah’s Clubs in Reno and Lake Tahoe; Cal-Neva Lodge; Lake Geneva Playboy Club, Resorts International, Claridge Hotel and Park Place.
Some of his more recent television appearances were on both the “Larry The Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular” (2007) and the “Larry The Cable Guy’s Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza” (2008) where he delighted audiences with his trademark antics and exceptional comedic talents.
He was married to Eve Velac (who died in July, 2010), had two sons, Mark and Larry, and two grandsons.
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