Isaac Sidney Caesar (September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014) was an American comic actor and writer, best known for two pioneering 1950s live television series: Your Show of Shows, which was a 90-minute weekly show watched by 60 million people, and its successor, Caesar's Hour, both of which influenced later generations of comedians. Your Show of Shows and its cast received seven Emmy nominations between the years 1953 and 1954 and tallied two wins. He also acted in movies; he played Coach Calhoun in Grease (1978) and its sequel Grease 2 (1982) and appeared in the films It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Silent Movie (1976), History of the World, Part I (1981), Cannonball Run II (1984), and "Vegas Vacation" (1997).
Caesar was considered a "sketch comic" and actor, as opposed to a stand-up comedian. He also relied more on body language, accents, and facial contortions than simply dialogue. Unlike the slapstick comedy which was standard on TV, his style was considered "avant garde" in the 1950s. He conjured up ideas and scene and used writers to flesh out the concept and create the dialogue. Among the writers who wrote for Caesar early in their careers were Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, Michael Stewart, Mel Tolkin, Selma Diamond, and Woody Allen. "Sid's was the show to which all comedy writers aspired. It was the place to be," said Steve Allen.
His TV shows' subjects included satires of real life events and people—and parodies of popular film genres, theater, television shows, and opera. But unlike other comedy shows at the time, the dialogue was considered sharper, funnier, and more adult-oriented. He was "...best known as one of the most intelligent and provocative innovators of television comedy," who some critics called television's Charlie Chaplin and The New York Times refers to as the "...comedian of comedians from TV's early days."
Honored in numerous ways over 60 years, he was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards, winning twice. He was also a saxophonist and author of several books, including two autobiographies in which he described his career and later struggle to overcome years of alcoholism and addiction to barbiturates.
Caesar in 1961
Isaac Sidney Caesar
September 8, 1922
Yonkers, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 12, 2014 (aged 91)|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer, musician, producer|
(m. 1943; died 2010)
Caesar was the youngest of three sons born to Jewish immigrants living in Yonkers, New York. His father was Max Ziser (1874–1946) and his mother was Ida (née Raphael) (1887–1975). They likely were from Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland. Reports state that the surname "Caesar" was given to Max, as a child, by an immigration official at Ellis Island. This is an urban myth. According to Marian L. Smith, senior historian of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, there is no known case of a name changed at Ellis Island. Max and Ida Caesar ran a restaurant, a 24-hour luncheonette. By waiting on tables, their son learned to mimic the patois, rhythm and accents of the diverse clientele, a technique he termed double-talk, which he used throughout his career. He first tried double-talk with a group of Italians, his head barely reaching above the table. They enjoyed it so much that they sent him over to a group of Poles to repeat his native-sounding patter in Polish, and so on with Russians, Hungarians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Lithuanians, and Bulgarians. Sid Caesar's older brother, David, was his comic mentor and "one-man cheering section." They created their earliest family sketches from movies of the day like Test Pilot and the 1927 silent film Wings.
After graduating from Yonkers High School in 1939, Caesar left home, intent on a musical career. He arrived in Manhattan and worked as an usher and then a doorman at the Capitol Theater there. He was ineligible to join the musicians' union in New York City until he established residency, but he found work as a saxophonist at the Vacationland Hotel, a resort located in the Catskill Mountains of Sullivan County, New York. Mentored by Don Appel, the resort's social director, Caesar played in the dance band and learned to perform comedy, doing three shows a week. He audited classes in clarinet and saxophone at the Juilliard School of Music. In 1939, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, and was stationed in Brooklyn, New York, where he played in military revues and shows. Vernon Duke, the composer of Autumn in New York, April in Paris, and Taking a Chance on Love, was at the same base and collaborated with Caesar on musical revues.
During the summer of 1942, Caesar met his future wife, Florence Levy, at the Avon Lodge in the Catskills village of Woodridge, New York. They were married on July 17, 1943, and had three children: Michele, Rick and Karen. After joining the musicians' union, he briefly played with Shep Fields, Claude Thornhill, Charlie Spivak, Art Mooney and Benny Goodman. Later in his career, he performed "Sing, Sing, Sing" with Goodman for a TV performance.
Still in the service, Caesar was ordered to Palm Beach, Florida, where Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz were putting together a service revue called Tars and Spars. There he met the civilian director of the show, Max Liebman. When Caesar's comedy got bigger applause than the musical numbers, Liebman asked him to do stand-up bits between the songs. Tars and Spars toured nationally, and became Caesar's first major gig as a comedian. Liebman later produced Caesar's first television series.
After the war, the Caesars moved to Hollywood. In 1946, Columbia Pictures produced a film version of Tars and Spars in which Caesar reprised his role. The next year, he acted in The Guilt of Janet Ames. He turned down the lead of The Jolson Story as he did not want to be known as an impersonator, and turned down several other offers to play sidekick roles. He soon returned to New York, where he became the opening act for Joe E. Lewis at the Copacabana nightclub. He reunited with Liebman, who guided his stage material and presentation. That job led to a contract with the William Morris Agency and a nationwide tour. Caesar also performed in a Broadway revue, Make Mine Manhattan, which featured The Five Dollar Date—one of his first original pieces, in which he sang, acted, double-talked, pantomimed, and wrote the music. He won a 1948 Donaldson Award for his contributions to the musical.
Caesar's television career began with an appearance on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater in the fall of 1948. In early 1949, Caesar and Liebman met with Pat Weaver, vice president of television at NBC, which led to Caesar's first series, Admiral Broadway Revue with Imogene Coca. The Friday show was simultaneously broadcast on NBC and the DuMont network, and was an immediate success. However, its sponsor, Admiral, an appliance company, could not keep up with the demand for its new television sets, so the show was cancelled after 26 weeks—ironically, on account of its runaway success.
On February 25, 1950, Caesar appeared in the first episode of Your Show of Shows, initially the second half of the two-hour umbrella show, Saturday Night Review; at the end of the 1950–51 season, Your Show of Shows became its own, 90-minute program from the International Theatre at 5 Columbus Circle and later The Center Theatre at Sixth Avenue and 49th Street. Burgess Meredith hosted the first two shows, and the premiere featured musical guests Gertrude Lawrence, Lily Pons and Robert Merrill. The show was a mix of sketch comedy, movie and television satires, Caesar's monologues, musical guests, and large production numbers. Guests included: Jackie Cooper, Robert Preston, Rex Harrison, Eddie Albert, Michael Redgrave, Basil Rathbone, Charlton Heston, Geraldine Page, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Pearl Bailey, Fred Allen, Benny Goodman, Lena Horne and many other stars of the time. It was also responsible for bringing together the comedy team of Caesar, Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris. Many writers also got their break creating the show's sketches, including Lucille Kallen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Michael Stewart, Mel Tolkin and Sheldon Keller. Sid Caesar won his first Emmy in 1952. In 1951 and 1952, he was voted the United States' Best Comedian in Motion Picture Daily's TV poll. The show ended after almost 160 episodes on June 5, 1954.
A few months later, Caesar returned with Caesar's Hour, a one-hour sketch/variety show with Morris, Reiner, Bea Arthur and other members of his former crew. Nanette Fabray replaced Coca, who had left to star in her own short-lived series. Ultimate creative and technical control was now in Caesar's hands, originating from the Century Theater and the weekly budget doubled to $125,000. The premiere on September 27, 1954, featured Gina Lollobrigida. Everything was performed live, including the commercials.
In 1963, Caesar appeared on television, on stage, and in the movies. Several As Caesar Sees It specials evolved into the 1963–64 Sid Caesar Show (which alternated with Edie Adams in Here's Edie). He starred with Virginia Martin in the Broadway musical Little Me, with book by Simon, choreography by Bob Fosse, and music by Cy Coleman. Playing eight parts with 32 costume changes, he was nominated in 1963 for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. On film, Caesar and Adams played a husband and wife drawn into a mad race to find buried loot in the 1963 comedy extravaganza It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Caesar was not a stand-up comedian but a "sketch comic, and actor," wrote one historian. "He conjured up ideas and enhanced scenes, but never wrote a word," and thereby depended on his writers for dialogue. Caesar was skilled at pantomime, dialects, monologues, foreign language double-talk and general comic acting.
His sketches were often long, sometimes 10 or 15 minutes, with numerous close-ups showing the expressions on the faces of Caesar and other actors. Caesar relied more on body language, accents, and facial contortions than simply spoken dialogue. Unlike the slapstick comedy, which was standard on TV, his style was considered avant garde. Caesar "...was born with the ability to write physical poetry," notes comedian Steve Allen, a technique like that used for a silent film comedian. An example of this "silent film" style is a live sketch with Nanette Fabray, where they both pantomime with careful choreography, having an argument with music by Beethoven in the background.
Writer Mel Tolkin stated that Caesar "didn't like one-line jokes in sketches because he felt that if the joke was a good one, anybody could do it. One-liners would take him away from what drove his personal approach to comedy." Larry Gelbart called Caesar's style theatrical, and called him "...a pure TV comedian." In describing his control during the live performances, actress Nanette Fabray recalled that unlike most comedians, such as Red Skelton, Bob Hope or Milton Berle, Caesar always stayed in character: "He was so totally into the scene he never lost it."
Caesar was able to pantomime a wide variety of things: a tire, a gumball machine, a lion, a dog, a punching bag, a telephone, an infant, an elevator, a railroad train, a herd of horses, a piano, a rattlesnake and a bottle of seltzer. On the Dick Clark show in 1978, he played a chewing gum machine and a slot machine. He was also able to create imaginary characters. Alfred Hitchcock compared him to Charlie Chaplin, and critic John Crosby felt "he could wrench laughter out of you with the violence of his great eyes and the sheer immensity of his parody." In an article in The Saturday Evening Post in 1953, show business biographer Maurice Zolotow noted that "Caesar relies upon grunts and grimaces to express a vast range of emotions."
Of his double-talk routines, Carl Reiner said, "His ability to doubletalk every language known to man was impeccable," and during one performance Caesar imitated four different languages but with almost no real words. Despite his apparent fluency in many languages, Caesar could actually speak only English and Yiddish. In 2008, Caesar told a USA Today reporter, "Every language has its own music ... If you listen to a language for 15 minutes, you know the rhythm and song." Having developed this mimicry skill, he could create entire monologues using gibberish in numerous languages, as he did in a skit in which he played a German general.
Among his primary subjects were parodies and spoofs of various film genres, including gangster films, westerns, newspaper dramas, spy movies and other TV shows. Unlike other comedy shows at the time, the dialogue on his shows were considered sharper, funnier and more adult oriented. In his sketches for Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, he would also typically "skewer the minutiae of domestic life" along with lampooning popular or classic movies.
Contemporary movies, foreign movies, theater, television shows and opera were targets of satire by the writing team. Often the publicity generated by the sketches boosted the box office of the original productions. Some notable sketches included: "From Here to Obscurity" (From Here to Eternity), "Aggravation Boulevard" (Sunset Boulevard), "Hat Basterson" (Bat Masterson), and "No West for the Wicked" (Stagecoach).
They also performed some recurring sketches. "The Hickenloopers", television's first bickering-couple sketch, predated The Honeymooners. As "The Professor", Caesar was the daffy expert who bluffed his way through his interviews with earnest roving reporter Carl Reiner. In its various incarnations, "The Professor" could be Gut von Fraidykat (mountain-climbing expert), Ludwig von Spacebrain (space expert), or Ludwig von Henpecked (marriage expert). Later, "The Professor" was inspiration for Mel Brooks' "The Two Thousand Year Old Man". The most prominent recurring sketch on the show was "The Commuters", which featured Caesar, Reiner, and Morris involved with everyday working and suburban life situations. Years later, the sketch "Sneaking through the Sound Barrier", a parody of the British film The Sound Barrier, ran continuously as part of a display on supersonic flight at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Steve Allen claimed, "Sid's was the show to which all comedy writers aspired. It was the place to be." While Caesar did not write his dialogue, he made all final decisions. His writers, such as Mel Brooks, felt they "had a great instrument in Caesar that we could all play, and we played it very well." As for Caesar, Nachman describes him basically as an "inspired idea man who allowed the writers to take more risks" than other TV shows. Woody Allen remembers that "...you wrote situations," instead of jokes, as in "This Is Your Story" with Carl Reiner, a parody of the popular TV show This is Your Life. It was said to be "Caesar's personal favorite" sketch.
In many cases, sketch dialogue was not even written down, but simply indicated by describing a scene, as in, "Sid does man coming home from business mad." Sometimes, said Larry Gelbart, it was "organized chaos," and when watching the writers create from offstage, felt, "...it was a religious experience." To Mel Brooks, "it was a zoo. Everyone pitched lines at Sid. Jokes would be changed fifty times." Naturally there were some explosive episodes: "Mr. Caesar once dangled a terrified Mr. Brooks from an 18th-story window until colleagues restrained him. With one punch, he knocked out a horse that had thrown his wife off its back, a scene that Mr. Brooks replayed in his movie Blazing Saddles."
Neil Simon recalled that after writing out a sketch and giving it to Caesar, "Sid would make it ten times funnier than what we wrote. Sid acted everything out, so the sketches we did were like little plays." Simon also remembered the impact that working for Caesar had on him: "The first time I saw Caesar it was like seeing a new country. All other comics were basically doing situations with farcical characters. Caesar was doing life."
Some of his writers, like Woody Allen, initially didn't like being among the large team of writers coming up with routines for Caesar, feeling it was too competitive and contributed to hostility among writers. An Allen biographer wrote that Allen "...chafed under the atmosphere of inspired spontaneity", although Allen did say that, "Writing for Caesar was the highest thing you could aspire to—at least as a TV comedy writer. Only the presidency was above that." Neil Simon noted that "we were competitive the way a family is competitive to get dad's attention. We all wanted to be Sid's favorite." As part of the competitive atmosphere in The Writer's Room, as it was called, friendship was also critical. Larry Gelbart explained:
We were able to be urbane. Between us we read every book. Between us we saw every movie. Between us we saw every play on Broadway. You could make jokes about Kafka or Tennessee Williams. We also had dinner together. We went to movies together. We were all friends. And that was very important. We appreciated each other a lot.
Nachman concludes that "the Caesar shows were the crème de la crème of fifties television," as they were "studded with satire, and their sketches sharper, edgier, more sophisticated than the other variety shows." Likewise, historian Susan Murray notes that Caesar was "...best known as one of the most intelligent and provocative innovators of television comedy."
According to actress Nanette Fabray, who acted alongside Caesar, "He was the first original TV comedy creation." His early shows were the "...gold standard for TV sketch comedy." In 1951, Newsweek noted that according to "the opinion of lots of smart people, Caesar is the best that TV has to offer," while Zolotow, in his 1953 profile for The Saturday Evening Post, wrote that "in temperament, physique, and technique of operation, Caesar represents a new species of comedian."
However, his positive impact on television became a negative one for Broadway. Caesar fans preferred to stay home on Saturday nights to watch his show instead of seeing live plays. "The Caesar show became such a Saturday-night must-see habit—the Saturday Night Live of its day," states Nachman, that "...Broadway producers begged NBC to switch the show to midweek." Comedy star Carol Burnett, who later had her own hit TV show, remembers winning tickets to see My Fair Lady on Broadway: "I gave the tickets to my roommate because I said, Fair Lady's gonna be running for a hundred years, but Sid Caesar is live and I'll never see that again."
After nearly 10 years as a prime-time star of television comedy with Your Show of Shows followed by Caesar's Hour, his stardom ended rapidly and he nearly disappeared from the spotlight. Nachman describes this period:
Caesar slid into a personal and career abyss ... [he] had no interest in movies ... He would live and die by the tube. His career was short-circuited by alcohol and pills ... The pressures of sudden stardom, of headlining and co-producing a weekly hit show, crushed him.
Caesar himself felt, "It had all come too fast, was too easy, and he didn't deserve the acclaim." Writer Mel Brooks, who also became his close friend, said, "I know of no other comedian, including Chaplin, who could have done nearly ten years of live television. Nobody's talent was ever more used up than Sid's. He was one of the greatest artists ever born. But over a period of years, television ground him into sausages."
In 1977, after blacking out during a stage performance of Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers in Regina, Saskatchewan, Caesar gave up alcohol "cold turkey". In his 1982 autobiography, Where Have I Been?, and his second book, Caesar's Hours, he chronicled his struggle to overcome his alcoholism and addiction to sleeping pills.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Caesar continued to make occasional television and theatrical appearances and starred in several movies including Silent Movie and History of the World, Part I (both reuniting him with Mel Brooks), Airport 1975, and as Coach Calhoun in Grease and its sequel Grease 2 in 1982. In 1971, he starred opposite Carol Channing and a young Tommy Lee Jones in the Broadway show Four on a Garden.
In 1973, Caesar reunited with Imogene Coca for the stage play, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, written in 1971 by Neil Simon. Their play opened in Chicago in August 1973. That same year, Caesar and Max Liebman mined their own personal kinescopes from Your Show of Shows (NBC had "lost" the studio copies) and they produced a feature film Ten From Your Show of Shows, a compilation of some of their best sketches. In 1974, Caesar said, "I'd like to be back every week" on TV and appeared in the NBC skit-based comedy television pilot called Hamburgers.
In 1980, he appeared as a double talking Japanese father for Mei and Kei's Pink Lady and opposite Jeff Altman in the Pink Lady and Jeff show.
In 1983, Caesar hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, where he received a standing ovation at the start of the show and was awarded a plaque at the conclusion of the show declaring him an honorary cast member. He released an exercise video, Sid Caesar's Shape Up!, in 1985. In 1987–89, Caesar appeared as Frosch the Jailer in Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1987, Caesar starred in the David Irving film The Emperor's New Clothes with Robert Morse as the Tailor. Caesar remained active by appearing in movies, television and award shows, including the movie The Great Mom Swap in 1995.
In 1996, the Writers Guild of America, West reunited Caesar with nine of his writers from Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour for a two-hour panel discussion featuring head writer Mel Tolkin, Caesar, Carl Reiner, Aaron Ruben, Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Sheldon Keller, and Gary Belkin. The event was taped, broadcast on PBS in the United States and the BBC in the UK, and later released as a DVD titled Caesar's Writers.
In 1997, he made a guest appearance in Vegas Vacation and, the following year, in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit in 1998 based on a Ray Bradbury novel. Also that year, Caesar joined fellow television icons Bob Hope and Milton Berle at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards. Billy Crystal also paid tribute to Caesar that night when he won an Emmy for hosting that year's Oscar telecast, recalling seeing Caesar doing a parody of Yul Brynner in The King & I on Your Show of Shows. Caesar performed his double-talk in a "foreign dub" skit on the November 21, 2001 episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
In 2003, he joined Edie Adams and Marvin Kaplan at a 40th anniversary celebration for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In 2004, Caesar's second autobiography, Caesar's Hours, was published, and in 2006, Billy Crystal presented Caesar with the TV Land Awards' Pioneer Award. In what TV Land called "...a hilarious, heartfelt, multilingual, uncut acceptance speech," Caesar performed his double-talk for over five minutes.
In a November 2009 article in the Toluca Lake, California, Tolucan Times, columnist Greg Crosby described a visit with Caesar and his wife Florence at their home. Of the couple's meeting, Florence said, "Well, I thought he was nice for the summer ... I thought he would be just a nice boyfriend for the summer. He was cute-looking and tall, over six feet.... I was in my last year at Hunter College; we were still dating when Sid went into the service, the Coast Guard. Luckily he was stationed in New York so we were able to continue seeing each other, even though my parents weren't too happy about it. They never thought he would amount to anything, that he'd never have a real career or make any money. But we were married one year after we met, in July of 1943." She also pointed out, "You know, he's not funny all the time. He can be very serious." At the time of the interview, the couple had been married for 66 years. Florence Caesar died on March 3, 2010, aged 88.
Caesar died on February 12, 2014 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 91, after a short illness.
On Caesar's death, Carl Reiner said, "He was the ultimate, he was the very best sketch artist and comedian that ever existed." Mel Brooks commented, "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." Jon Stewart and The Daily Show paid tribute to Caesar at the show's close on February 12, 2014. Vanity Fair republished a brief tribute written by Billy Crystal in August 2005, in which he said of Caesar and his contemporaries:
I get nervous when I am with these giants. 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. Never stooping beneath themselves, Sid and this team of icons put forth a raucous, hilarious, and truthful brand of comedy that, 50 years later, is still funny and inspiring, and makes me think ... What kind of comedy would I be doing if I hadn't seen Sid Caesar? Would I be a comedian at all?
He was predeceased by his wife, Florence (2010) and survived by his children Karen, Michelle, and Rick, and two grandsons. His interment was at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery. He had 3 children: Karen, Michelle and Dr Richard (Rick) Caesar (died 2014).
|1948||Donaldson Award for Male Debut in a Musical||Won|
|1951||Emmy Award, Most Outstanding Personality||Nominated|
|Emmy Award, Best Actor||Nominated|
|Look magazine Best Comedian on TV||Won|
|1952||Emmy Award, Best Actor||Won|
|Emmy Award, Best Comedian or Comedienne||Nominated|
|1953||Emmy Award, Best Comedian||Nominated|
|1954||Emmy Award, Best Male Star of Regular Series||Nominated|
|1956||Emmy Award, Best Comedian||Nominated|
|Look magazine Best Comedian on TV||Won|
|1957||Emmy Award, Best Continuing Performance by a Comedian in a Series||Won|
|1958||Emmy Award, Best Continuing Performance (Male) in a Series||Nominated|
|1960||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Inducted|
|1963||Tony Award, Best Leading Actor in a Musical||Nominated|
|1985||Television Academy Hall of Fame||Inducted|
|1987||British Comedy Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy||Honored|
|1995||Emmy Award, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|1997||Emmy Award, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|2001||Television Critics Association Career Achievement Award||Honored|
|2005||DVD Exclusive Award, Best Supporting Actor in a DVD Premiere Movie||Won|
|2006||TV Land Pioneer Award ||Honored|
|2011||Television Critics Association Lifetime Achievement Award||Honored|
In 2005, the Humane Society of the United States honored Caesar by establishing the "Sid Caesar Award for Television Comedy" among the Genesis Awards given annually to individuals in major news and entertainment media who produce outstanding works that raise public awareness of animal issues. In announcing the 2014 Genesis Award winners on February 14, 2014, the Society paid special homage to Caesar, whom the Society credited as one of its most dedicated supporters.
|1946||Tars and Spars||Chuck Enders|
|1947||The Guilt of Janet Ames||Sammy Weaver|
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Melville Crump|
|1966||The Mouse That Roared||Duchess / Mountjoy / Tully||Television film|
|1967||The Busy Body||George Norton|
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Man at Romanoff's|
|1967||The Spirit Is Willing||Ben Powell
|The Lucy Show. Lucy and Sid Caesar|
|1973||Ten from Your Show of Shows||Unknown||Also writer|
|1976||Silent Movie||Studio Chief|
|1977||Flight to Holocaust||George Beam||Television film|
|1977||Curse of the Black Widow||Lazlo Cozart||Television film|
|1978||The Cheap Detective||Ezra Dezire|
|1978||Barnaby and Me||Leo Fisk||Television film|
|1980||The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu||Joe Capone|
|1980||Dorothy in the Land of Oz||Wizard / Mince Pie||Voice|
|1981||The Munsters' Revenge||Dr. Dustin Diablo||Television film|
|1981||History of the World: Part I||Chief Caveman|
|1982||Grease 2||Coach Calhoun|
|1984||Over the Brooklyn Bridge||Uncle Benjamin|
|1984||Cannonball Run II||Fisherman #2|
|1985||Love Is Never Silent||Mr. Petrakis||Television film|
|1985||Alice In Wonderland||The Gryphon||Television film|
|1986||Stoogemania||Doctor Fixyer Mindyer|
|1986||Christmas Snow||Snyder||Television film|
|1987||The Emperor's New Clothes||The Emperor|
|1988||Freedom Fighter||Max||Television film|
|1988||Side by Side||Louis Hammerstein||Television film|
|1995||The Great Mom Swap||Papa Tognetti|
|1997||Vegas Vacation||Mr. Ellis|
|1998||The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit||Sid Zellman|
|2004||Comic Book: The Movie||Old Army Buddy||(final film role)|
|1950–54||Your Show of Shows||Himself (Regular Performer)||139 episodes|
|1954||Producers' Showcase||Napoleon Bonaparte / Himself||Episode: "Dateline"|
|1954–57||Caesar's Hour||Himself (Host)||Also composer|
|1958||Sid Caesar Invites You||Himself||13 episodes|
|1958||The All-Star Christmas Show||Himself||Television special|
|1959||Some of Manie's Friends||Himself||Television special|
|1959||The United States Steel Hour||Unknown||2 episodes|
|1961||General Electric Theater||Nick Lucifer||Episode: "The Devil You Say"|
|1961||Checkmate||Johnny Wilder||Episode: "Kill the Sound"|
|1962||As Caesar Sees It||Himself||Television special|
|1963–64||The Sid Caesar Show||Himself (Host)|
|1966–70||The Hollywood Palace'||Himself (Host)|
|1966–70||The Dean Martin Show'||Himself||Also composer|
|1967||The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special||Himself||Television special|
|1967||The Danny Thomas Hour||Gregory||Episode: "Instant Money"|
|1968||That Girl||Marty Nickels||Episode: "The Drunkard"|
|1969–71||Love, American Style||Bert / John Smith||2 episodes|
|1975||When Things Were Rotten||Marquis de la Salle||Episode: "The French Dis-connection"|
|1976||Good Heavens||Herman Meltzer||Episode: "Herman Meltzer"|
|1978||Vega$||The General||Episode: "Mother Mishkin"|
|1978–84||The Love Boat||Bert Multon / Michael Harmon||2 episodes|
|1979||Intergalactic Thanksgiving||King Goochi||Voice; television special|
|1981||The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo||The Bomber||Episode: "Another Day, Another Bomb"|
|1982||Matt Houston||Prince Sergei Polansky||Episode: "Recipe for Murder"|
|1985||Amazing Stories||Amazing Stories (TV series)||Episode: "Mr. Magic"|
|1986||Sesame Street||Love & War (TV series)||Episode: "#18.19"|
|1995||Love & War||Mr. Stein||2 episodes|
|1997||Life with Louie||Marty Kazoo||Voice|
|1997||Mad About You||Uncle Harold||Episode: "Citizen Buchman"|
|2001||Whose Line Is It Anyway?||Himself||Season 4 Episode 15|
The 19th Emmy Awards, later known as the 19th Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out on June 4, 1967, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was hosted by Joey Bishop and Hugh Downs. Winners are listed in bold and series' networks are in parentheses.
The top show of the night was Mission: Impossible, which won three major awards. Don Knotts won his fifth Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy. This record still stands.3rd Primetime Emmy Awards
The 3rd Emmy Awards, retroactively known as the 3rd Primetime Emmy Awards after the debut of the Daytime Emmy Awards, were presented at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on January 23, 1951.
This would be the last year that the Emmys were primarily given out to shows that were produced or aired in the Los Angeles area. Starting with the 4th Annual Emmy Awards, nominations were considered on a national television network basis.4th Primetime Emmy Awards
The 4th Emmy Awards, retroactively known as the 4th Primetime Emmy Awards after the debut of the Daytime Emmy Awards, were presented at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, California on February 18, 1952. The ceremonies were hosted by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
This was the first year that nominations were considered on a national television network basis. Previously, the Emmys were primarily given out to shows that were produced or aired in the Los Angeles area.A Guide for the Married Man
A Guide for the Married Man is a 1967 American bedroom farce comedy film starring Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, and Inger Stevens. It was directed by Gene Kelly. It features a large number of cameos, including Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Terry-Thomas, Jayne Mansfield, Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Joey Bishop, Art Carney and Wally Cox. The title song, performed by The Turtles, was composed by John Williams with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.Caesar's Hour
Caesar's Hour is a live, hour-long American sketch-comedy television program that aired on NBC from 1954 until 1957. The program starred, among others, Sid Caesar, Nanette Fabray, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Janet Blair, and Milt Kamen, and featured a number of cameo roles by famous entertainers such as Joan Crawford and Peggy Lee.
Widely considered a continuation of Caesar's earlier programs, the Admiral Broadway Revue and Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour included most of the same writers and actors, with the notable addition of Larry Gelbart (who went on to co-create the M*A*S*H TV series with Gene Reynolds) in the latter show. Nanette Fabray replaced Imogene Coca, who opted to star in her own TV series in 1954, The Imogene Coca Show. The writing staff of the show was reunited in 1996 for an event at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles called Caesar's Hour Revisited, excerpts of which were broadcast on PBS under the title Caesar's Writers.
The full two-hour event was available on VHS as a pledge premium from PBS. It was released on DVD for the first time on December 12, 2011. The reunion featured Caesar with Mel Tolkin (head writer), Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller, Aaron Ruben, and Gary Belkin. The moderator and researcher was Bob Claster.
Caesar's Hour expanded on the format of Your Show of Shows with many sketches running a half-hour or more, including musical parodies such as "There's No Business" and "Towers Trot", and genre parodies such as "Bullets over Broadway" (a gangster movie takeoff) and "Aggravation Boulevard" (with Caesar as a Rudolph Valentino/John Gilbert character who fails to make the transition from silents to talkies). Many of the sketches are centered on a domineering star who flames out, prefiguring Caesar's postseries personal and career troubles.From July to September 1956, NBC ran The Ernie Kovacs Show as a summer replacement series for Caesar's Hour.Double-talk
Double-talk is a form of speech in which inappropriate, invented, or nonsense words are used to give the appearance of knowledge and so confuse or amuse the audience.
Comedians who have used this as part of their act include Al Kelly, Cliff Nazarro, Danny Kaye, Gary Owens, Irwin Corey, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Stanley Unwin, Reggie Watts, and Vanessa Bayer.Four on a Garden
Four on a Garden is a set of four One-act plays that were presented on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre from January 30, 1971, until March 20, 1971. The set included House of Dunkelmayer, Betty, Toreador, and The Swingers. The four plays were originally written by French playwrights Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy but were adapted into English by Abe Burrows. Burrows directed the show whose cast included Sid Caesar, Carol Channing, Tommy Lee Jones, and George S. Irving.Genesis Awards
The Genesis Awards are awarded annually by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to individuals in the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works which raise public awareness of animal issues. Presented by the HSUS Hollywood Outreach program, the awards show takes place every March in California. The awards have honored such well-known personalities as Michael Jackson, Aaron Sorkin, Anderson Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Goodall, David E. Kelley, Paul McCartney, Arthur Miller, Stephen Colbert, Oprah Winfrey, Prince, Jacques Cousteau and Ian Somerhalder, as well as journalists, film and documentary writers and producers, print and broadcast news outlets in the United States.
Honorary awards include the Sid Caesar Award for television comedy, the Doris Day Award for music, the Brigitte Bardot International Award for non-American media, and the Gretchen Wyler Award for a celebrity using their fame to bring attention to animal issues.Imogene Coca
Imogene Coca (born Emogeane Coca; November 18, 1908 – June 2, 2001) was an American comic actress best known for her role opposite Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows. Starting out in vaudeville as a child acrobat, she studied ballet and wished to have a serious career in music and dance, graduating to decades of stage musical revues, cabaret and summer stock. In her 40s, she began a celebrated career as a comedian on television, starring in six series and guest starring on successful television programs from the 1940s to the 1990s.
She was nominated for five Emmy Awards for Your Show of Shows, winning Best Actress in 1951 and singled out for a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting in 1953. Coca was also nominated for a Tony Award in 1978 for On the Twentieth Century and received a sixth Emmy nomination at the age of 80 for an episode of Moonlighting.She possessed a rubbery face capable of the broadest expressions — Life magazine compared her to Beatrice Lillie and Charlie Chaplin and described her characterizations as taking "people or situations suspended in their own precarious balance between dignity and absurdity, and push(ing) them over the cliff with one single, pointed gesture". The magazine noted a "particularly high-brow critic" as observing, "The trouble with most comedians who try to do satire is that they are essentially brash, noisy and indelicate people who have to use a sledge hammer to smash a butterfly. Miss Coca, on the other hand, is the timid woman who, when aroused, can beat a tiger to death with a feather." Aside from vaudeville, cabaret, film, theater and television, she voiced children's cartoons and was even featured in the 1984 MTV music video "Bag Lady" by the band EBN-OZN, ultimately working well into her 80s. In a 1999 interview, Robert Ozn said during the shoot she was required to sit on the sidewalk in snow for hours during a blizzard with 15 degree temperatures. "While the rest of us 20-somethings were moaning about the weather, warming ourselves by a heater, this little 75-year-old lady never once complained - put us all to shame. She was the most professional artist I've ever worked with."Laughter on the 23rd Floor
Laughter on the 23rd Floor is a 1993 play by Neil Simon. It focuses on the star and writers of a TV comedy-variety show in the 1950s, inspired by Simon's own early career experience as a junior writer (along with his brother Danny) for Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour.Little Me (musical)
Little Me is a musical written by Neil Simon, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. The original 1962 Broadway production was memorable, with Sid Caesar in multiple roles with multiple stage accents playing all of the heroine's husbands and lovers. One of the best known songs from the musical is "I've Got Your Number".Recurring character
A recurring character is a fictional character, usually in a prime time TV series, who often and frequently appears from time to time during the series' run. Recurring characters often play major roles in more than one episode, sometimes being the main focus.
Recurring characters usually start out as guest stars in one episode but continue to show up in future episodes if the storylines or actors are compelling enough. Sometimes a recurring character eventually becomes part of the main cast of characters; such a character is sometimes called a breakout character. Some notable examples of main characters who were originally recurring characters are: Eli Gold on The Good Wife; Leo Chingkwake on That '70s Show; Angel and Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Marc St. James on Ugly Betty; Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl; Zack Allan on Babylon 5; Steve Urkel on Family Matters; Donna Moss on The West Wing; Michelle Dessler and Chloe O'Brian on 24; Santana Lopez, Brittany S. Pierce & Blaine Anderson on Glee; Felicity Smoak on Arrow, Rebecca Katsopolis & Kimmy Gibbler on Full House; Noah Munck on iCarly and Adina Porter on American Horror Story: Roanoke and Melissa McBride on The Walking Dead.
In other cases, recurring characters have been given spin-off series of their own, such as Dr. Frasier Crane who originally was a recurring character on Cheers. Kelsey Grammer, along with fellow recurring actor John Ratzenberger were hired for seven episodes, to play Frasier Crane and Cliff Clavin respectively. Cliff was scheduled to recur during the 1982-1983 season, Frasier to recur during 1984-1985 season. Both actors were subsequently upgraded to the main cast, and Crane continued in his own series following the end of Cheers.
On sketch comedy programs, recurring characters are generally a staple. For example, in the sketch comedy series Your Show of Shows, Sid Caesar used the concept frequently:
As we were building and evolving our sketch comedy, we would look for new types of sketches that had legs (not caterpillar legs). We liked the idea of recurring characters and themes. It gave us something we could start with and something the audience could connect with.
Usually they appear in their own sketch and the sketch itself can become a regular part of the show. Some notable examples include the Church Lady and Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live, the Gumbys from Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV. However, the characters are not always limited to their own sketches. Sometimes, characters from a recurring sketch go on to appear in other sketches, or develop into their own TV shows. For example, when The Carol Burnett Show was canceled the central character of a popular recurring sketch called The Family, Thelma "Mama" Harper, went on to have her own show Mama's Family. Also, recurring characters in sketch comedy shows can go on to have their own movies. This is especially true with Saturday Night Live which has had many recurring characters turn into movies such as Stuart Smalley, Wayne and Garth of Wayne's World, The Blues Brothers, and The Ladies Man. Recurring characters may even revisit shows long after the actor who played them has left the cast, for example, the character Mary Katherine Gallagher was portrayed by Molly Shannon when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007, six years after she left the cast. Sometimes a recurring character from one show appears on another show, such as when Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis hosted Saturday Night Live in 1983 and portrayed Bob and Doug MacKenzie, or when Emily Litella (portrayed by Gilda Radner) from Saturday Night Live appeared on The Muppet Show in 1978. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Ali G is another example, originating on the Channel Four series The Eleven O'Clock Show. The character was such a huge success that Cohen got his own show as the original show was cancelled.
Recurring characters are not limited to television. In the early 20th century, the Saturday Evening Post frequently had recurring characters in their cover art, such as Baby New Year. The Shmoo was a recurring character in the comic strip Li'l Abner, which eventually went on to appear in the TV cartoon series Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo and The New Shmoo. The Sherlock Holmes series of novels by Arthur Conan Doyle featured well-known recurring characters such as Inspector Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson.In US daytime soap operas, recurring characters are ones played by actors who do not have a contract. They are not obligated to play the role and have no guarantee of work. Actors on recurring status used to be referred to as day players.Silent Movie
Silent Movie is a 1976 American satirical comedy film co-written, directed by, and starring Mel Brooks, and released by 20th Century Fox on June 17, 1976. The ensemble cast includes Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Bernadette Peters, and Sid Caesar, with appearances by Anne Bancroft, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Marcel Marceau, and Paul Newman playing themselves. While indeed silent (except for one word, music, and numerous sound effects), the film is a parody of the silent film genre, particularly the slapstick comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, and Buster Keaton. Among the film's most famous gags is the fact that the only audible word in the film is spoken by Marcel Marceau, a noted mime. Sound is a big factor in the film's humor, as when a scene that shows the New York City skyline begins with the song "San Francisco", only to have it come to a sudden stop as if the musicians realize they are playing the wrong music. They then go into "I'll Take Manhattan" instead. A play on the current trend of large corporations buying up film studios is parodied by the attempt of the Engulf and Devour Corporation to take control of a studio (a thinly veiled reference to Gulf+Western's takeover of Paramount Pictures).The Cheap Detective
The Cheap Detective is a 1978 American satirical comedy film written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore.It stars Peter Falk as Lou Peckinpaugh, a parody of Humphrey Bogart. The film is a parody of Bogart films such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.The ensemble cast includes Madeline Kahn, Louise Fletcher, Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, Marsha Mason, Sid Caesar, John Houseman, Dom DeLuise, Abe Vigoda, James Coco, Phil Silvers, Fernando Lamas, Nicol Williamson, Scatman Crothers, Vic Tayback and Paul Williams.The Hollywood Palace
The Hollywood Palace is an hour-long American television variety show that was broadcast weekly (generally on Saturday nights) on ABC from January 4, 1964, to February 7, 1970. Originally titled The Saturday Night Hollywood Palace, it began as a midseason replacement for The Jerry Lewis Show, another variety show, which had lasted only three months. It was staged in Hollywood at the former Hollywood Playhouse (where Lewis' series had originated, temporarily renamed "The Jerry Lewis Theater" from September through December 1963) on Vine Street, which was renamed the Hollywood Palace during the show's duration and is today known as Avalon Hollywood. A little-known starlet named Raquel Welch was cast during the first season as the "Billboard Girl", who placed the names of the acts on a placard (similar to that of a vaudeville house).The Spirit Is Willing
The Spirit Is Willing is a 1967 American horror/comedy film directed by William Castle, written by Ben Starr, and starring Sid Caesar, Vera Miles, Barry Gordon, John McGiver, Cass Daley, Ricky Cordell and Mary Wickes. Based on The Visitors by Nathaniel Benchley, it was released in July 1967, by Paramount Pictures.The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit is a 1998 film set in East Los Angeles directed by Stuart Gordon, written by Ray Bradbury and starring Edward James Olmos, Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Clifton Collins Jr. (credited as Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez), Sid Caesar, Howard Morris and Gregory Sierra. Despite some well-known actors and the writing credit of Bradbury, the film was released direct-to-video by Touchstone Pictures.Yonkers High School
Yonkers High School is located in Yonkers, New York, US, and offers the International Baccalaureate program of studies.
Yonkers High School was ranked the 24th best American high school and the 4th best New York State high school in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report. Yonkers High School offers Advanced Placement courses and participates in the International Baccalaureate program. In line with the IB program, Yonkers High School aims to create a “community of caring learners” by encouraging community service activity among its students. Students at Yonkers High School can graduate with a standard diploma, Regents Diploma or Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation. Extracurricular opportunities for students include clubs such as Habitat for Humanity and the Bio-Diversity Club.Notable alumni include the actor and comic Sid Caesar and John Howard Northrop, recipient of the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.Your Show of Shows
Your Show of Shows is a live 90-minute variety show that was broadcast weekly in the United States on NBC from February 25, 1950, through June 5, 1954, featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Other featured performers were Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Bill Hayes, Judy Johnson, The Hamilton Trio and the soprano Marguerite Piazza. José Ferrer made several guest appearances on the series.
In 2002, Your Show of Shows was ranked #30 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2013, it was ranked #37 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time.
Awards for Sid Caesar