1 9 6 1 – 1 9 6 4 (UK)
Mike Weinstein was born in Islington (North London) on 15 November 1930. His younger brother arrived on 6 September 1933 at the now demolished Salvation Army Maternity Home in Old Street.
Mike was educated at Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music (where he learned to play the clarinet) while Bernie fancied himself as “either a great drummer or a great gangster” and used a family connection to get himself a spot at the Regency Club in London’s Soho where he played the ukulele, sang a few songs and told a few jokes.
During the war, the brothers teamed up as a double act for a talent contest in Manchester – They won the contest and were rewarded with a one-week tour.
The Weinstein brothers (who had already adopted the Winters stage name) failed to set the entertainment world alight and at various times the duo went their separate ways to pursue other forms of income, although they always ended up bringing the act back together again.
On 25 June 1955 they made their first TV appearance on a BBC show called Variety Parade and eventually landed the comedy slot on a new BBC series aimed at a teenage audience. The show was called Six-Five Special and was a major hit for the BBC and the boys, who stayed with the show until 1958.
Their agent, Joe Collins (father of actress Joan and authoress Jackie) managed to get them some spots on ITV’s premiere variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium and in 1962 they were invited to appear before the Queen in that years Royal Variety Show.
Also in 1962, Mike and Bernie turned down an agent’s offer to manage four young lads who were “big up North”. Instead, Bernie played the clown and became familiar in his bowler hat with his soppy toothy grin, his head tilted to one side as he pulled the more serious Mike’s cheek and called him ‘choochie face’.
ABC signed the duo for a show called Big Night Out, recorded in Manchester and featuring top-name guests, The show was a big hit, especially in the north of England where Big Night Out was followed in 1964 by Blackpool Night Out which the boys also hosted and by the time it had finished the boys were a big hit.
Mike and Bernie immediately went into their own series (Mike and Bernie’s Show) and followed this with a new series every year up until 1973.
In 1978 the act broke up permanently amidst much-publicised animosity between the brothers.
Mike moved to the USA and Bernie went solo, signing a deal with Thames Television enjoying a number of successes including a series called Bernie in which he appeared with a new partner -a St Bernard dog called Shnorbitz.
Although the brothers made their peace in the 1980s they never worked together again and on 4 May 1991, Bernie died of cancer at the age of 58.