Comedian and TV pioneer Sid Caesar dies at 91
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
2/13/2014 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A familiar face in millions of American homes thanks to that new-fangled invention called television, comedian Sid Caesar, best known for "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour" helped create the 1950s "Golden Age of Television," has died. He was 91. Caesar had respiratory problems along with other health problems for several years.
Comedian Sid Caesar as he attended a surprise 70th birthday party for television talk show host Larry King at the Museum of Television and Radio in 2003.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Your Show of Shows," which went on the air in 1950 and lasted four years. "Caesar's Hour," combined sketches, musical revues and situation comedy followed shortly thereafter.
Writers for both programs went on to become legends in their own right. Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen and Larry Gelbart are all familiar names in the world of comedy. Woody Allen also contributed to Caesar's comedy as a writer for one of his specials.
"Sid Caesar was a giant-maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade & I was privileged to be one of his writers & one of his friends," longtime friend Mel Brooks tweeted this week.
Caesar also appeared in a number of films, including "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), "Airport 1975" (1974) and "Grease" (1978). He received a Tony nomination for his performance in the 1962 show "Little Me," with a book by Neil Simon.
Born Isaac Sidney Caesar in 1922, was part of a pioneering group of personalities who helped establish television in its early days. Caesar was a pioneer: Comics such as Jack Benny and Fred Allen essentially just transferred their radio shows to television. Milton Berle's "Texaco Star Theater" was essentially old-fashioned stage vaudeville on the small screen. Caesar's "Show of Shows" presented movie parodies, wordless pantomimes and brisk routines between the host and co-star Imogene Coca.
"Sid Caesar was a giant. If it weren't for Sid Caesar there might not be television as we know it. He and his co-stars and writers revolutionized television comedy, and really comedy in general," biographer Eddy Friedfeld, a close friend of Caesar said.
Even more impressive was the fact that it was all done live, every Saturday night at 9 p.m.
Caesar had his personal demons. He had a longtime drug and alcohol problem. He went blank one day while performing on stage in 1977. He checked into a hospital soon after and got clean.
Among his honors were two Emmys, a lifetime achievement award from the Television Critics Association and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was married to Florence Levy for 67 years until her death in 2010. The couple had three children.
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