Sid Caesar: Revered TV Comic Dies At 91By: Val Powell - February 12, 2014
It’s a sad day for comedy. Sid Caesar, best known for his shows “Caesar’s Hour” and “Your Show of Shows”, has passed away. He died at the age of 91 in his home on the morning of February 12. The news was confirmed by Carl Reiner, one of Caesar’s friends and collaborators.
The comedic legend was discovered during the Second World War, when he was serving as a Coast Guard and took part in a musical titled “Tars and Spars.” He went on to appear in the movie version, which highlighted his talent in dancing, singing, and of course—comedy. One thing led to another, and soon Caesar found himself in other roles on television, stage, and film.
The early 1950s brought “Your Show of Shows,” which Caesar hosted with Imogene Coca. Coca shared that she and Caesar had perfect comedic chemistry, both of them finding the same things funny, which made the show a success. In 1954, Caesar was made the star of his own show “Caesar’s Hour,” which made him a millionaire.
He next went onstage for the musical “Little Me,” in which he played seven different roles, including a European prince, a young man that seemed to be too perfect, and a movie director bent on tyranny. His acting earned him a nomination for a Tony. His film credits include “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” in 1963 and “Silent Movie” in 1976, in which he showed off his pantomime skills.
The times weren’t all happy for Caesar, however. By then he had grown to rely on alcohol and pills, and it took its toll, affecting his performance one day in 1977 when he was doing “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers”. His mind suddenly went blank. He dived into recovery cold turkey and with the help of his wife Florence, fought off his demons—and succeeded.
Caesar influenced a whole generation of comedy writers, including Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen, whose first big break was writing for “The King,” a name Caesar was called by his friends and fellow comics. He also inspired comedy actors Richard Lewis and Billy Crystal, among others who have turned comedy into art.
Image via Wikimedia Commons