News / Arts & Entertainment

Pioneering TV Comedian Sid Caesar Dies at 91

FILE - Legendary comedian Sid Caesar accepts the TV Land Pioneer award presented by friend and comedian Billy Crystal (L) during a taping of the TV Land awards show in Santa Monica, California, in 2006.
FILE - Legendary comedian Sid Caesar accepts the TV Land Pioneer award presented by friend and comedian Billy Crystal (L) during a taping of the TV Land awards show in Santa Monica, California, in 2006.
VOA News
Pioneering U.S. television comedian Sid Caesar, who set the standard for TV comedy in the early 1950s, has died at 91.

The New York-born Caesar began his career as a big band saxophonist before moving into nightclubs and the Broadway stage.

He started his television career in 1949 when he partnered with the late comedienne Imogene Coca.

Their legendary series Your Show of Shows was must-see Saturday night viewing and attracted huge audiences. Caesar rejected typical TV slapstick and in favor of sketches that showcased the best and sometimes worst of human behavior -- ill-tempered bosses, angry husbands, life in suburbia, and pretentious professors.

Your Show of Shows also parodied foreign films to highlight Caesar's ability to speak in realistic-sounding Russian, Japanese, and French dialect which was actually gibberish and nonsense.

The writing staff of Your Show of Shows and Caesar's subsequent series reads like a "who's who" of American comedy. They include Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart.

After television, Caesar returned to Broadway and films and wrote candidly about his battles with alcoholism and drug abuse in an 1982 autobiography.

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