BY DONNA WESTFALL
It has been said that Sid Caesar made Television and Television made Sid Caesar. He was one of a kind. His YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS during the 1950’s brought comedy into our living rooms and kept people laughing. His career launched the careers of such notables as Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Danny and Neil Simon, Mel Tolkin and Larry Gelbart. His first foray into television was considered a failure because back in the late 1940’s TV was a new medium. His show was so popular that the TV sponsor (Admirnal Corp) could not keep up with demand for TV’s and canceled their sponsorship so they could concentrate on production. During his heyday, nearly 60 million people in America watch his show.
Known for speaking in gibberish; whether it was mimicking German, Yiddish or Russian, his multilingual schtick kept people in stitches. He was a comic genius that knew how to ad lib and create characters and situations from life that brought a smile to our face which would erupt into boisterous laughter from all members of the family. I remember my parents, brother and sister all laughing so hard, we wouldn’t think of missing a single show.
His Jewish immigrant parents (Dad from Poland, Mom from Russia) named him Isaac Sidney Caesar. During the years he helped out in their luncheonette, he picked up on the cadences of the people he served who were largely multinational. Although he never spoke any foreign languages, he sounded convincing nevertheless.
He worked 6 days a week to bring in a 90 minute live show. Not always a nice guy to work for due to his explosive rages. Popping pills and problems with alcohol caught up with him during the 70’s.
Born Sept. 8, 1922, in Yonkers . He was one of 3 sons and growing up looked upon as moody, shy, quiet and short, although he reached 6′ 2″ eventually. His rubbery face and well honed body sparked comedic magic when in combination with Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner. This comedic genius also brought families together that laughed so hard, the tears would stream down your face.
His influence has already been felt for decades through the great writers, actors and producers who got their start on THE SHOW OF SHOWS. Sid Casear died on Wednesday, February 12th, at his home in Beverly Hills, California.