Though it all began on the stage, the stage that is best associated with John Byner is the television screen. Few actors or comedians have been on as many shows as Byner. From the earliest days on Ed Sullivan, John was a natural with the camera. In total, the range would include more than just comedy as we can also find him in The Practice, Hawaii Five-O, and as Cotton Dunn in Silk Stalkings.
“One night at the Vanguard, Ed Sullivan’s talent co-ordinator, Jack Babb stopped in, caught the show and told John that he’d like him to do a few minutes of the act for dress rehearsal that Sunday afternoon. “If Ed likes you, we’ll set a date for a future show”. John was thrilled to meet Mr. Sullivan, his family and all the families he knew watched the show every Sunday night. Ed liked John so much,he put him on the show that very evening. Over the next 10 years, John appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show eighteen times.
From that first major show, he was invited to join the cast of the new Garry Moore Show, with Lilly Tomlin, Pete Barbutti, Ron Carey and Jackie Vernon.
After those 8 weeks were done, John worked with Mel Torme and Woody Herman and his Orchestra at New York’s Basin Street East,where he met Steve Allen. one of Johns favorites. Steve invited John to be a regular on his next show.
That show, took John west to CBS and the beginning of many shows. His own…”Something Else,” where he toured with six girl dancers, filming sketches, dancing and the musical guests , contemporary singers and bands, such as The WHO, Three Dog Night, Taj Mahal, O.C.Smith and many others. “The John Byner Comedy Hour”, at CBS. Guests over the weeks were Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Ted Knight, Bill Bixby, Theresa Graves, James Farentino, Regulars, Garry Muledeer, R.G.Brown and Patti Deutsch. “Relatively Speaking” a game show, where John met many relatives of famous people,… With a special guest each show, Jonathan Winters, Bob Commings, Timothy Leary and others, with the panel of experts, Steve Allen, Meredith MacRae and Jamie Farr. Ninety episodes.
Guested on “Carol Burnett” a half dozen times,”Johnny Carson” 30 shows, Two ‘Odd Couples”, two seasons on the series “Soap’ as the character Detective Donahue, “Bizarre Show” six seasons, “Comedy On The Road” four seasons, “GetSmart”, “The Mouse Factory” for Disney productions, “The Don Rickles Show”, “The Tom Jones Show”, a dozen “Mike Douglas” Shows, many Hollywood Squares, Hollywood Palaces etc.
Movies for television and theaters…? What’s Up Doc”, with Barbra and Ryan,”Last of the Cowboys’ with Henry Fonda and Susan Sarandon, “Stroker Ace” with Burt and Loni, “A Pleasure Doing Business” with Conrad Bain and Alan Openheimer, “The Man In The Santa Claus Suit” with Fred Astaire, “Three On A Date” with Loni Anderson, Rick Nelson, Patrick Wayne and Meridth MacRae. “Transylvania 6-5000” with Geena Davis And Jeff Goldbloom . To be continued. “