José Jiménez (character)
José Jiménez was a fictional character created and performed by comedian Bill Dana on The Steve Allen Show in 1959 and who became increasingly popular during the 1960s. This character introduced himself with the catch phrase: "My name — José Jiménez".
During the course of his José Jiménez acts, Bill Dana (who is of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry, unlike the Mexican character he played) took his character through various roles including elevator operator, sailor, and submariner until settling into the most famous occupation that José would hold — astronaut.
Ed Sullivan: "Now, what do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?"
Jose Jimenez: "To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off."
Ed Sullivan: "The blast-off."
Jose Jimenez: "I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise I wouldn't go near that thing."
Perhaps surprisingly, the character of José Jiménez caught on amongst the seven Mercury astronauts, and Dana became good friends with them. "Okay, José, you're on your way!" Deke Slayton quipped as Alan Shepard's famous first flight launched, in reference to the astronaut parody. For his role as José the Astronaut, Dana was officially made an honorary Mercury astronaut. (Ironically, there was a real test pilot named Bill Dana, who flew as high as 59 miles up and qualified for NASA's Astronaut Badge.)
As time passed, Dana realized that such ethnic humor was becoming offensive, and Hispanic groups began protesting Dana's portrayal of the dim-witted Hispanic character. In 1970, Dana announced to ten thousand Mexican-Americans attending a cultural pride festival that "after tonight, José Jiménez is dead," later holding a mock funeral for José on Sunset Boulevard. In 1997 Dana received an image award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Read more about José Jiménez (character): José Jiménez in Popular Culture
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