Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bill Dana, a comedian and comedy writer whose most famous character, the bumbling, English-mangling José Jiménez, provoked anger as well as laughter, died on Thursday at his home in Nashville. He was 92. Dana had been writing for television for several years and performing in nightclubs for nearly a decade when, in 1959, he created José, who appeared for the first time in a sketch on the Steve Allen Show. The character became an immediate hit, and over the next decade Dana invented a variety of preposterous professions for José, including deep-sea diver, wild animal trainer and, most famously, astronaut. Dana always claimed that José, whose nationality was never specified, was a fond portrait of a decent, striving immigrant, and that the comedy was rooted not in ethnic disparagement but in the difficulty of assimilation.

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Nonetheless, many people saw José as a reinforcement of negative stereotypes, and over the course of the 1960s the character became the target of protests.

By 1970, Dana had stopped performing as José -- he even read the character's obituary at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Congress of Mexican-American Unity -- though he insisted that he made that decision not because of mounting anger about the character but because some people were misinterpreting his intentions.

He decided to drop the character, he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, because of people "who would tell me, 'Boy I shore love it when you play that dumb Mexican.'"

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RIP

#1 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-06-20 07:15 AM | Reply

Now there is someone I have not thought about in a long time.

#2 | Posted by REDIAL at 2017-06-20 07:21 AM | Reply

We loved him so much when I was a kid.

I remember his last line in that conversation was when Ed asked him if he had anything to say to the American people before his historic journey. He said, "people of America.....don't let them do this to me!"

#3 | Posted by danni at 2017-06-20 11:37 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

Lots of memories... RIP.

#4 | Posted by Hans at 2017-06-20 11:45 AM | Reply

#2 | POSTED BY REDIAL
"Now there is someone I have not thought about in a long time."

Not since The Right Stuff.

#5 | Posted by TheTom at 2017-06-20 01:46 PM | Reply

"Not since The Right Stuff." - #5 | Posted by TheTom at 2017-06-20 01:46 PM

Great reference, TheTom:

Gonzalez: "You know, Mr. Shepard, me and my friends think your Jose Jimenez imitation is A-OK. But what you're doing with it is B-A-D."

#6 | Posted by Hans at 2017-06-20 01:52 PM | Reply

José Jiménez got a bad name because he was a stereotype. But wait a minute, I remember the TV show. Jose was honest, hard working, kind and decent. Not such a bad stereotype to be associated with.

#7 | Posted by docnjo at 2017-06-21 12:57 PM | Reply

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