William Szathmary
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William Szathmary

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William Szathmary (October 5, 1924 – June 15, 2017), known professionally by his stage name Bill Dana.

He often appeared on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, frequently in the guise of a heavily accented Bolivian character named José Jiménez. Dana often portrayed the Jiménez character as an astronaut. Dana's career took a major turn when he began writing stand-up routines for the young comedian Don Adams, including the now well-known "Would you believe?" jokes popularized by Get Smart. From there, he was brought in as a writer for The Steve Allen Show, where he created the José Jiménez character for the show's Man in the Street segments. On an Ed Sullivan Show appearance, Dana related a story of how a woman recognized him on the street, but knew him only as José Jiménez, and asked what his real name was. Instead of his stage name, "Bill Dana", he gave her his real name, "William Szathmary". The woman rejoined: "Wow, no wonder you changed it to Jiménez! The character was so well-received that it was spun off into his own NBC sitcom, The Bill Dana Show (1963–1965). Jiménez was still a bellhop, but now at a posh New York hotel. His snooty, irritable boss was played by Jonathan Harris, and also featured Adams.

In 1970, responding to changing times and sensitivities, Dana stopped portraying the José Jiménez character; however, he played the character again on the 1988 revival of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Dana wrote the script for possibly the best known episode of the hit situation comedy All in the Family, entitled "Sammy's Visit", which featured Sammy Davis Jr. Although his film appearances were few, Dana had roles in a few movies including The Busy Body (1967), Harrad Summer (1974), I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now? (1975), and The Nude Bomb (1980). Dana would also have a recurring role on The Golden Girls as Sophia Petrillo's brother Angelo. He died at age 92 at his home in Nashville, TN.