In The News

Tributes are paid to veteran comedian Sid Caesar

Tributes are paid to veteran comedian Sid Caesar

TRIBUTES have been paid to the veteran American comedian Sid Caesar who has passed away at the age of 91.

Mr. Caesar was not a stand-up comedian in the true sense of the term but he was a master of TV sketch comedy. Indeed, he has been credited with having been a pioneer of the genre with his TV show in the 1950s Your Show of Shows.

The live 90-minute variety show, which ran on American TV on Saturday nights between 1950 and 1954, was one of the most-watched programmes of the time. Mr. Caesar developed a wide range of sketches (see below) with his team of writers which included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Mel Tolkin.

A total of 160 episodes of the show were broadcast. But although it made him a star, the punishing schedule took its toll with the comedian blaming an addiction to pills and alcohol on the pressure of working six days a week. 

During this time stories emerged of the comedian’s temper fits. He once reportedly dangled Mel Brooks from an office window.

Months after Your Show of Shows ended, he returned to prime-time television with Caesar’s Hour which also proved a hit with audiences. In the late 1950s he also developed another show — Sid Caesar Invites You. But by this time his popularity was beginning to wane slightly.

During the 1960s he continued to work in television but he also enjoyed success on Broadway — appearing in the musical Little Me which involved him playing eight parts and having to make 32 costume changes. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor.

He also appeared in the hit film It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), see below.

Over the years, he won several Emmy Awards as well as being nominated on a number of other occasions. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1985 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards in 1987. He also received a Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics’ Association in 2001 and a TV Land Pioneer Award in 2006.

The comedian was also active in charity events including the Chabad Telethon appeals in the US. At such events he would regular perform his famous “double talk” sketch (see below).

Mr. Caesar passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He is survived by his two daughters and a son. His wife, Florence, passed away in 2010.

Among the many tributes was one from his friend Mel Brooks who said: “Sid 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”.

To see Mr. Caesar in an early sketch with Imogene Coca, click here.

To see a trailer for the film It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, featuring Mr. Caesar, click here.

To see a short tribute to Mr. Caesar’s appearances on the Chabad Telethon Appeals, which features his “double talk” routine, click here.

To view an excerpt from an archive interview with Mr. Caesar, click here.

View previous In the News items: Former actress Shirley Temple passes away, Funeral takes place of Belfast actress Leila Webster, Songwriter Anna Gordy Gaye passes away, Tributes are paid to actor Maximilian Schell, Actor Eric Lawson passes away, Tributes are paid to Pete Seeger, Slight rise in number of deaths in Northern Ireland, Stargazer John Dobson passes away, Actress Sarah Marshall passes away, Tributes are paid to Sir Christopher Chataway, Tributes are paid to Lord McAlpine, Tributes are paid to Roger Lloyd Pack, Thieves target urn containing ashes of Sigmund Freud, Actress Alexandra Bastedo passes away, Poet Amiri Baraka passes away, Tributes are paid to Paul Goggins, Entertainment mogul Run Run Shaw passes away, Tributes are paid to film producer Saul Zaentz, Local charities hold Christmas appeals, Actress Joan Fontaine passes away, Tributes are paid to screen legend Peter OToole, Tributes are paid to novelist Colin Wilson, Final preparations are made for funeral of Nelson Mandela, Actress Eleanor Parker passes away, Tributes are paid to actor Barry Jackson, Pianist and composer Stan Tracey passes away, National Memorial Service held for Nelson Mandela, Actress Mary Riggans passes away, Tributes are paid to actor Paul Walker, Actress Jean Kent passes away, Tributes are paid to actor Lewis Collins, Leading crossword setter Araucaria passes away, Funeral takes place of Fr Alec Reid, Former Manchester United footballer passes away, Belfast writer is honoured at Westminster Abbey, Tributes are paid to Nobel winning scientist Frederick Sanger, Broadcaster Ray Gosling passes away, Immunologist William Pollack passes away, Oldest person in UK passes away, Tributes are paid to former rugby star Steve Prescott, Hundreds attend the funeral of Eddie McGrady, Hundreds attend funeral of former RAF man, Former broadcaster John Cole passes away, Tributes are paid to pianist Bernard Roberts, Scottish singer Jack Alexander passes away, Jazz musician Frank Wess passes away, Actor Graham Stark passes away, Memorial is unveiled to hero priest, Actress Marcia Wallace passes away, Tributes are paid to Augusto Odone, Tributes are paid to jazzman Tommy Whittle, Singer Noel Harrison passes away, Former US politician Tom Foley passes away, Tributes are paid to actor Kumar Pallana, Character actor Ed Lauter passes away, Chemist Malcolm Renfrew passes away or Campaigner for child proof packaging passes away

If you have a relative or a friend who has passed away and feel they should be mentioned in our In the News section, then please email us.