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Joe E. Ross (March 15, 1914 – August 13, 1982) was an American actor known for his trademark "Ooh! Ooh!" exclamation, which he used in many of his roles.

He was born Joseph Roszawikz in New York, New Yorkmarker. After attending Seward Park High School, in 1930, he left school at the age of 16 to become a singing waiter at the Van Cortlandt Inn in the Bronxmarker. When the cafe added a girl dancer and singer, Ross was promoted to announcer. He added some jokes and became a comedian.

In 1938, he appeared at the Queens Terrace, near Jackson Heights, New York. Jackie Gleason had already been playing there for 16 weeks, and the manager was about to ask Gleason to stay a while longer. Ross heard of the opening, auditioned for it, got the contract, and also stayed 16 weeks. Ross then turned burlesque comic on the Schuster circuit out of Chicagomarker.

His career was interrupted by World War II, and he served in the Army Air Corps at Camp Blanding, Floridamarker, and later was sent to Englandmarker.

After war, Ross took the stand as announcer-comic at Billy Gray's Bandbox in Hollywoodmarker. He kept his ties to burlesque intact, and appeared in Irving Klaw's feature-length theatrical film Teaserama (1955), a filmed re-creation of a burlesque show.

In 1955, Joe worked at a nightclub in Miami Beachmarker called Club Ciro. It was there that he was spotted by Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers, who were planning a show called You'll Never Get Rich (later known as The Phil Silvers Show) and immediately loved Joe's comedic talent. He was hired on the spot and cast as mess sergeant Rupert Ritzik.

Ross made Ritzik a memorable character. Ritzik was henpecked, dumb, and greedy, so he was an easy mark for Sgt. Bilko's con games. Whenever Ritzik had a sudden inspiration, he would hesitate and stammer "Ooh! Ooh!" before articulating his idea. This catchphrase came from the actor's own frustration when he couldn't remember his next line. Phil Silvers recalled deliberately straying from the scripted dialogue and giving Ross the wrong cues, thus prompting a genuinely confused reaction and an agonized "Ooh! Ooh!" from Ross.

After the The Phil Silvers Show ended in 1959, Nat Hiken went on to produce Car 54, Where Are You? and cast Joe E. Ross as Patrolman Gunther Toody of New York's 53rd Precinct. Fred Gwynne, another Bilko alumnus, played Toody's partner, Francis Muldoon. Toody could usually be counted on at some point to say,"Ooh! Ooh! Francis!" Ross became so identified with his policeman role that he recorded an album of songs entitled "Love Songs from a Cop." Roulette Records released the LP in 1964.

Ross's personal life was as noisy and troubled as his screen characters. Silvers estimated that Ross was married 11 times.

Ross also starred as Gronk in Sherwood Schwartz's ill-fated 1966 sitcom It's About Time, which featured two 1960s American astronauts who were thrown back in time to the prehistoric era.

Ross also was a prominent cartoon voice into the 70s, playing the stereotypical bumbling sergeant in many cartoons such as Hong Kong Phooey (as Sgt. Flint) and Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch (as Botch). His "Ooh! Ooh!" phrase was emulated by Frank Welker in the animated series Fangface.

Ross died while on stage on August 13, 1982 in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker at the age of 68. He was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemeterymarker.


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