COMIC LEGEND SID CAESAR DEAD

Published on: February 12, 2014
Photography by: NBC Universal via Getty
SID CAESAR

The legendary SID CAESAR who’s "SHOW OF SHOWS" spawned a legion of fabled funny men has died at 91.

Larry King broke the sad news via Twitter, showbiz bible Variety reported.

Partnered with Imogene Cocoa, Caesar’s live TV broadcast is often credited with the 90 TV sketch comedy format that lives in less satiric form on "Saturday Night Live".

Sidney Caesar was born to immigrant parents in Yonkers, N.Y and aspired to a musical career but during a stint in Coast Guard he began shtick for several CG comedy revues

Sid made his first nightclub appearance at the Copacabana where he won plaudits from even the toughest New York crix for his crazy foreign-accented double-talkers (soon to be a Caesar trademark). In 1949 Caesar made his TV debut in s “Admiral Broadway Revue,” where he met comedienne Imogene Coca. He was hailed as the find of the year and earned a king’s ransom of $900 a week.

On Feb. 24, 1950, NBC launched “Your Show of Shows,” a revue of comedy sketches, ballet, modern dance, popular music and operatic selections. Directed and produced by Sid Liebman, the program was broadcast live in front of an audience

The show was an immediate success, and quickly became one of TV’s most influential programs during its so-called golden era of live TV and launched the careers of Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen among others.

Simon later revisited the era with a thinly-disguised homage in the film “My Favorite Year”.

Caesar was nominated for Emmys every year from 1951 to 1958 winning twice.

The pressures of a live weekly TV show took its toll on Caesar, however and he finally signed off as ratings diminished.

Following Caesar’s 1950s golden boy run,  he made a precipitous decline into alcoholism and barbiturates, a self-described “20 year blackout”. He wrote in his autobiography “I had been downing eight Tuinals and a quart of Scotch a day.

“When I was awake I’d think of nothing but ‘I must do it faster, kill myself faster. I’d get up to take pills just to go back to sleep. I had no friends. My life was over.”

It wasn’t quite - not until he entered showbiz Valhalla today. Hail Cesar!