Bill Dana is a comedian, writer, director and composer from Quincy, Massachusetts. He got his start appearing on television and in clubs as a part of the comedy team Dana and Wood (with fellow Emerson College alumni Gene Wood), and later appeared as a solo performer and comedy writer, serving as the head writer on The Steve Allen Show from 1956-1960. Television appearances included his starring role in The Bill Dana Show, spots on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Milton Berle Show and The Hollywood Palace, among others. Of all his performances and accomplishments, Dana is still most remembered for one character, Jose Jiminez, who he immortalized in his television series The Bill Dana Show from 1963-1965.
The Bill Dana Film Collection came to the Harvard Film Archive in 2005 and includes 35mm pre-print film elements and 35mm projection prints for the entire run of The Bill Dana Show. Researchers studying the history of television or the history of comedy will be particularly interested in this collection. Bill Dana’s papers are housed at Emerson College as part of the Emerson Comedy Archives, which contains manuscripts, photographs, and an oral history collection devoted to exploring the nature of comedy as an American art form. A finding aid for the Emerson College collection can be found here.