Sid Caesar, American comedy pioneer, dead at 91

Sid Caesar, the versatile writer, actor and showman who profoundly influenced American comedy from the early days of television and beyond, has died. He was 91 years old.

A rep for Carl Reiner, one of Caesar’s longtime aides, confirmed his death to TheWrap. Talk show host Larry King broke the news of Caesar’s death on his Twitter account:

Born Isaac Sidney Caesar, the actor was the best-known TV series “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour,” and memorably played Coach Calhoun in the movie “Grease.”

Caesar left home after high school in Yonkers to pursue a musical career in the 1930s, and found work here and there playing the saxophone – a skill he would retain throughout his life. His first taste of comedy came at a hotel in the Catskills, where he performed in the dance group and participated in comedy routines.

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A stint in the Coast Guard saw him tour nationally with a service revue, and he moved to Hollywood after the war, reprising his role in a film version of the show for Columbia Pictures. Her television career began with an appearance at Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theatre”, and her first series, “The Admiral Broadway Revue” was an instant hit on NBC – but only lasted 26 episodes.

In 1950, he appeared on the first episode of “Your Show of Shows”, a 90-minute variety show that aired on Saturday nights. The show first brought together the seminal comedy team of Caesar, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris and Imogene Coca – as well as breaking the writing careers of future comedy luminaries such as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Lucille Kallen.

Caesar won his first Emmy for the show in 1952, but it ended two years later. It worked out well for Caesar: He returned to television with the hour-long live show “Caesar’s Hour” a few months later – his first taste of full creative control – bringing much of his “Your Show of Shows, which famously ridiculed pop culture of the time, including movies, theater, and other television shows.

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Caesar continued to write and appear regularly in film and television over the decades, including alongside Edie Adams as the husband and wife team in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”; in “History of the World, Part I” by Mel Brooks; and as Coach Calhoun in “Grease” and “Grease 2.”

He wrote two autobiographies – ‘Where Have I Been’ and ‘Caesar’s Hours’, which chronicle his struggles with alcoholism and barbiturates. He was made an honorary cast member of “Saturday Night Live”—the only person ever to receive that honor—during his hosting stint in 1983, and remained active in the business well into its final years. years.

See Sid Caesar in the “Big Business” skit with longtime collaborators Carl Reiner and Howard Morris in the video below:

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