Originally, the series was filmed like a play. The cast had to memorize the entire script, and the scenes were filmed in one take, in sequence, in front of a studio audience. When Mike Todd made a guest appearance in the second season, he insisted on the episode being filmed like a movie, out of sequence, multiple takes, with no audience. Silvers and the crew found Todd's way was faster, cheaper, and less demanding for the actors, so the series changed over to this new policy. The episodes were screened for audiences of military servicemen, whose responses were recorded and added to the shows.
Although the ratings were still good in the show's final season, it was canceled by CBS because they wanted to sell the reruns in syndication. At that time, it was believed that a series could not still be in production in order to do well in reruns. The reruns were sold to NBC, and aired continuously for forty years. Phil Silvers was very upset when CBS abruptly canceled the series without consulting him.
In 2003, "The Radio Times" named this as the top television sitcom, above other classic shows such as Fawlty Towers (1975) and Seinfeld (1989).
The first three seasons were filmed in New York City at Creator and Producer Nat Hiken's insistence. When Hiken left the show, the production was moved to Los Angeles, California.
Phil Silvers (Bilko) and Maurice Gosfield (Doberman) did not get along. In real-life, Gosfield was very much the slob that he portrayed as Doberman. He also had constant trouble remembering his lines, which frustrated the cast and crew. Despite this, Gosfield became the most popular cast member, and received more fan mail than Silvers, which Silvers resented. According to Silvers, the adulation went to Gosfield's head and he became very demanding on the set. Silvers wrote in his autobiography, "Dobie thought of himself as Cary Grant playing a short, plump man."
Paul Ford often forgot his exact lines, which allowed Phil Silvers to improvise during many of the scenes between Sergeant Bilko and Colonel Hall. Both men always stayed in character however, it was usually the other actors in the scene who laughed, ruining the scene.
George Kennedy, who served in the U.S. Army, was a Technical Advisor for the show. He was also given a bit part playing M.P. Sergeant Kennedy. The first acting role of his screen career.
On August 11, 2009 the U.S. Postal Service issued a pane of twenty forty-four cent commemorative postage stamps honoring early U.S. television programs. A booklet with twenty picture postal cards was also issued. On the stamp honoring this show, Phil Silvers appeared in character as Master Sergeant Ernest G. (Ernie) Bilko. Other shows honored in the Early TV Memories issue were: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), The Dinah Shore Show (1951), Dragnet (1951), "The Ed Sullivan Show" (originally titled The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950), Hopalong Cassidy (1952), The Honeymooners (1955), "The Howdy Doody Show" (original title: The Howdy Doody Show (1947)), I Love Lucy (1951), Kukla, Fran and Ollie (1947), Lassie (1954), The Lone Ranger (1949), Perry Mason (1957), The Red Skelton Hour (1951), "Texaco Star Theater" (titled The Milton Berle Show (1948), 1954-1956), The Tonight Show (which began as The Tonight Show (1953)), The Twilight Zone (1959), and You Bet Your Life (1950).
Mickey Freeman (Private Fielding Zimmerman), who died on September 21, 2010, was the last surviving star of the series.
Never before available, but now available on the season one, five-DVD set, is the unaired pilot called "You'll Never Get Rich" from Nat Hiken's private collection archives. This never broadcast pilot had the late Jack Warden in the role of Corporal Steve Henshaw. When the real pilot was aired, it was re-titled "The New Recruits" with newcomer Allan Melvin replacing Jack Warden as Corporal Henshaw. It kept the same storyline of Bilko needing to raise money in order to get in a big poker game. Melvin stayed with the series throughout it's entire run.
Phil Silvers later admitted he was very upset when CBS suddenly canceled the series.
Phil Silvers later said, "The cancellation of the Bilko show came as a complete surprise to me. After five big years on the air it was killed without anyone consulting me. It destroyed my pride. I was startled and hurt by the action, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was always beefing about how tired I was from all the work, but I wanted to retire from the show myself, not have it done for me. Still I can't complain too much, I owned half the show and gave it up for a considerable sum of money in my children's names."