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Body Watch | GUEST WORKOUT

Uncle Miltie's Routine : He exercises, he drinks water--lots of it. He won't eat red meat but inhales veggies. Now, about those cigars . . .

February 07, 1996|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Recently, while Milton Berle and his friend Buddy Arnold smoked cigars at their booth at the Friars Club, this buttinsky was served a platter of lox, a toasted bagel, cream cheese and onions.

"You're not fixing your plate," Berle noticed almost immediately. "Never mind. Here. Let me do it."

He did it.

Within a few seconds he said, "You're not eating."

The noshing commenced.

"You know what that is?"

"It's lox, Mr. Berle."

"Milton. What lox? That is Nova Scotia. That is $54 a pound. Eat."

*

Question: I don't want to talk with my mouth full. So, why don't you tell me about your fitness program for starters?

Answer: Fitness. . . . Well, let's start another way. Keeping fit. In the first place, I don't know what beer tastes like. I'm a teetotaler. Big surprise. Big to-do. It is strange after so many years in show business.

Q: What do you drink?

A: I like to drink 15 to 20 glasses a day of distilled water. No sodium at all. Also, I stay away from sparkling water. How's the lox?

Q: It's the best ever. Any other don'ts?

A: I haven't eaten red meat nearly 60 years now. Why? Around 1937 I was appearing in vaudeville at the Palace Theater in Chicago where I visited a friend in the meatpacking business. It was putrid. I walked out and vomited. I stopped eating meat right there. Did you want capers with that bagel?

Q: No, thank you. What do you eat?

A: I eat fish and fowl, but most of all I eat steamed vegetables. I have salad, which is good for the digestive system. I may have salad with little pieces of chicken and the dressing could be oil and vinegar, and I'll tell you what I have that is good for me and that is pasta with plain fresh ground tomatoes and pepper and I don't have salt. I do eat a lot of fresh fruit salads without anything on it.

And I do have my own bread. There's no salt in it. I'm really a dessert hound. I like lemon meringue pie. Would you like some coffee now? . . . And I've been smoking cigars--which you didn't ask me about--since I was 12.

Q: I was going to get to that. You started young.

A: All the stars and comedians were all smoking big cigars. Somebody gave me one. Not a strong one, not a Cuban one, a domestic one. I had it in my mouth, puffing on it, choking a little not knowing how to smoke a cigar and my mother saw me. She grabbed it out of my mouth, gave me a little smack and said, "How dare you! You're 12 years old. You've got short pants on." Well, I broke the rule and I sneaked it after that.

Q: How many cigars do you smoke a day?

A: I give away as many as I smoke.

Q: How many do you give away?

A: One more than I smoke.

Q: Where'd you get that dress you wore on "Roseanne"?

A: Out of my closet. Somebody once asked me, "When you met your new wife, Lorna, what drew you together?" and I said we both had the same dress size.

Q: What size dress are you?

A: Well, with the brassiere and the boobs and everything, an 18.

Q: You know, you are exceptionally limber.

A: Well, I used to box and tap dance, and I could take pratfalls, ride bicycles and a unicycle. I was very loose so I think the early years in vaudeville and show business helped me toward the later years. Without being hammy or hammier, I feel that my reflexes are pretty good even at 87.

Q: What do you do these days to stay loose?

A: I do the stationary bike at home for about 20 to 35 minutes and walk every day. If you walk around the block three times, you got your arteries going and every part of your body moving. And I'm very close to Arnold Schwarzenegger and sometimes I go to his place. We were on the cover of a magazine together. He was pushing iron and I was pushing . . . what? ("Iron pills," Buddy answers.)

Q: What have you learned over the years about taking care of yourself?

A: I try to avoid people that are argumentative. I have no time for that anymore. Raises the blood pressure. Also, get as much rest as you can although at my age now, 87, you don't need that much sleep anymore. Everybody, even my lovely wife, sees to it that Milton gets his five to six hours of solid sleep.

Q: Anything else?

A: I've always had my own private bedroom all my life. It's very healthy that way, I think, for both sides, for the man and the woman. I like to cuddle. I like to have love and I have sex and all that, but there are times I believe that it's a better state of mind to have separate bedrooms.

Q: Tell me about your golf days.

A: Well, Jack Benny and George Burns and myself used to play. We were pretty good golfers. Jack Benny swung at the ball and Burns said, "Does your husband also play?"

Q: Those must have been wonderful times.

A: Oh, a million laughs. But you see, we played for laughs. And that's how Jack Benny paid off--with laughs.

* Guest Workout runs every other Wednesday in Life & Style.

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