Phil Silvers (May 11, 1911 – November 1, 1985) was an American entertainer and comedy actor. He is best known for starring in The Phil Silvers Show, a 1950s sitcom set on a U.S. Army post in which he played Sergeant Bilko.
Born Philip Silversmith in Brooklyn, New York, Silvers was the youngest of eight children in a Russian-Ukrainian Jewish family. His father was one of the workers on the early New York skyscrapers. Silvers started entertaining at age 11, when he would sing in theaters when the projector broke down (a common occurrence in those days). Two years later, he left school to sing professionally, before appearing in vaudeville as a stooge.
Silvers then landed work in short films for the Vitaphone studio, burlesque houses, and on Broadway, where he made his debut in the short-lived show Yokel Boy. Critics raved about Silvers, who was hailed as the bright spot in the mediocre play. He then wrote the revue High Kickers, until he went to Hollywood to appear in films.