Born December 14, c. 1914, in Chicago, IL (some sources say San Francisco, CA); died from a heart attack, October 28, 1996, in Los Angeles, CA. Comedian,actor, and writer. Amsterdam's father, a concert violinist, wanted him to become a musician, but the wisecracking Amsterdam only used his cello as a propin his comedy acts. Best known for his role as television comedy writer BuddySorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), Amsterdam excelled at comedyin any medium--Vaudeville, radio, television, stage, and writing. He startedas a teenager, playing the straight man for his brother, and went on to writejokes for Will Rogers and Fanny Brice. After powerful crime syndicate leaderAl Capone raved about Amsterdam's stage act during a Chicago performance, the comedian had no problem getting booked. The brash wisecracks that earned Amsterdam the title of "Human Joke Machine" also landed him on radio shows in the 1940s, although he sometimes angered sponsors because he poked fun at their advertisements. Amsterdam made the move to television in 1948 on the variety show Stop Me If You've Heard This One and hosted his own show in 1950. From1957 to 1959, Amsterdam starred on the program Keep Talking, before landinghis big role on the hit The Dick Van Dyke Show. He appeared on Hollywood Squares in the 1970s and did stand-up comedy in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. He wrote the screenplay Ghost and the Guest (1943), and coauthored Kid Dynamite (1943) and Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966). Amsterdam also wrote material for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan. He was the author several books, including Keep Laughing and Betty CookerCrock Book for Drunks.