Shalom Life | March 09, 2014

Legendary Jewish Comedian Sid Caesar Dies at 91

“Grease” star hailed as what “all comedy writers aspired” to be

By: Zak Edwards

Published: February 13th, 2014 in News » World

Legendary Jewish sketch comedian and actor Sid Caesar has died. The Grease and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World star passed away peacefully in his Beverly Hills home surrounded by friends and family. He was 91 years old. He is survived by his three children and joins his wife of 67 years, Florence Levy.

Already, other great comedians have been offering words of support and gratitude for the late actor, whose career spanned seven decades and won him numerous awards. Fellow Jewish comedian Carl Reiner said that "he was the ultimate, he was the very best sketch artist and comedian that ever existed." Mel Brooks has also praised the late comedian, saying “"Sid Caesar was a giant, maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade. And I was privileged to be one of his writers and one of his friends." The two worked together on Caesar’s Your Show of Shows.

Woody Allen echoed these sentiments in a brief statement, saying “He was one of the truly great comedians of my time.”

Born in Yonkers, New York in 1922, Isaac Sidney Caesar first had aspirations of becoming a musician before realizing his natural gift for acting. Unlike many other comedians, his physical comedy relied less on slapstick and was described as “avant garde.” Fellow comedian Steve Allen has said that “He was born with the ability to write physical poetry.”

Caesar is hailed as one of the most important figures in the Golden Age of Television and for bringing silent film era physical comedy back into the talking pictures of the fifties. His two shows, Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour, were both sketch comedy shows that, besides drawing in millions of viewers, were also willing to have sketches last for a long time and see where they went.

Caesar appeared in numerous television shows, from The Bob Hope Show to Mad About You, always bringing with him a sensibility that is often mimicked but never surpassed. Caesar became famous for never relying on shock, putdowns, or other offensive material to get people to laugh. Like the late Charles Burns, his comedy came from incredible talent, hard work, and an incredible eye for the human experience.

Billy Crystal wrote a praise of Caesar back in 2005 for Variety and said of the late comedian: “I always feel like I want to say, Thank you. I am blessed to have grown up in their time of perfection, to have witnessed the utter force of Sid. Live, uncut, daring but not risqué.”
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