A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 27, 2015
“Ladies and Germs” (comic introduction of “Ladies and Gentlemen”)

“Ladies and Germs”  (for “Ladies and Gentlemen”) is a joking way that a comedian might address an audience. “Ladies and Germs” has been cited in print insce at least 1949, when it was credited to Milton Berle (1908-2002), host of television’s The Texaco Star Theatre. Bob Thomas, of the Associated Press, wrote in Berle’s obituary in 2002:
“‘Good evening, ladies and germs,’ Berle would say to his audience. ‘I mean ladies and gentlemen. I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are.’”
Wikipedia: Milton Berle
Milton Berle (July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002) was an American comedian and actor. As the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major American television star[4] and was known to millions of viewers as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television” during TV’s golden age.
Mr. Television
Berle would revive the structure and routines of his vaudeville act for his debut on TV. His first TV series was The Texaco Star Theatre, which began September 22, 1948 on ABC and continued until June 15, 1949 with cast members Stang, Kelton and Gallop, along with Charles Irving, Kay Armen, and double-talk specialist Al Kelly. Writers included Nat Hiken, brothers Danny and Neil Simon, Leo Fuld, and Aaron Ruben.
TV Tropes
Ladies and Germs
A play on the traditional greeting “Ladies and gentlemen”, possibly coined by Milton Berle.
4 December 1949, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Television Highlights” by Merrill Panitt, pg. 56, col. 1:
Jokes Berle should forget: “I want to introduce our conductor—if he’s a conductor, I want a transfer,” and “Ladies and Germs,” and “Come on audience, laugh! There’s a bus leaving.”
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
8 May 1952, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Screening TV” by Merrill Panitt, pg. 26, col. 6:
Should he be Milton Berle—“Good evening, ladies and germs?”
Google Books   
Volume 92, Part 2
Pg. 90 (photo caption):
Belly busters from the ladies and germs.
15 June 1975, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, “Hagar the Horrible” comic strip by Dik Browne, comics sec.:
(A jester to Hagar and an audience.—ed.)
6 February 1976, The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), Mark Russell column, pg. 9, col. 6:
Since Washington is becoming more show-biz every day, watch for some real knee-slappers from our leader—“Good evening, ladies and germs—take my budget—please!”
IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
Perfect Strangers: Season 2, Episode 6
Ladies & Germs (5 Nov. 1986)

TV Episode |  TV-PG |  30 min |  Comedy, Family
When Larry comes down with a bad cold on the day of a big date, Balki wants him to take the “Mypos cure”, but Larry is hesitant.
Google Books
Make ‘em Laugh
By Steve Allen
Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books
Pg. 45:
“I think Milton Berle was the first one — (public address system comes on) Ahl There we are. Now we can all hear each other. As I say, Milton Berle was the first person to say “ladies and germs,” but tonight I mean it because (cough) — Oh, boy!”
Google News Archive
28 March 2002, The Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ), “Milton Berle, the soul of early TV, dies” by Bob Thomas (AP), pg. 5A, col. 6:
“Good evening, ladies and germs,” Berle would say to his audience. “I mean ladies and gentlemen. I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are.”
Straight Dope Message Board
‘Good evening ladies & germs’ - WTH?!?
Hail Ants
04-24-2003, 08:21 PM
Does this ancient, cliched, Catskill comic opening line actually mean anything? Is there any double entendré implied with the word ‘germs’? Or is it just a simple (and dumb) substitution for gentlemen?

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Sunday, December 27, 2015 • Permalink

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