Sid Caesar, a TV pioneer, legendary comedian, showman, and comic icon, died at age 91 on February 12 in Beverly Hills, California. He was a comedy genius of 1950s television with his work on Caesar’s Hour and Your Show of Shows, one of the earliest 90-minute Saturday weekly comedy shows. He became famous for his sketch comedy show. Although his most famous show came on TV, he also had a career in films and on stage. According to Carl Reiner, Caesar’s friend, he had been ill for a year, and took his last breath at his residence on Wednesday.
Pioneering figure Sid Caesar was born as Isaac Sidney Caesar to Jewish immigrant parents on September 8, 1922, in New York. He was a notable TV persona and comedian. He appeared in Your Show of Shows that was broadcasted on NBC from February 1950 to June 1954. The show was blend of satire, comedy, music and guest interviews. The show introduced many writers, such as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Michael Stewart, and Sheldon Keller. The show aired 160 episodes on NBC. The TV polls voted Sid Caesar as the best comedian in the US. His pairing with Imogene Coca was widely popular in the show, and it was voted as the most outstanding variety show winning two Emmy Awards.
Furthermore, Caesar made a return on TV with another hit. It was Caesar’s Hour and then its sequel also featured the comic icon. In 2003, in his memoir, Sid described his account of how the pressure of creating a 90-minute show in short time led him to take sedatives, alcohol and then addiction led to angry and violent outbursts. They had to work hard to produce six comedy sketches in three days. Billy Crystal called Sid Caesar the greatest sketch comedian, a hero and an inspiration. Crystal further said aspiring comedians should study Caesar’s acting. The writers such as Woody Allen and Carl Reiner were introduced through his shows.
Eddy Friedfeld said Caesar was a distinct talent, pioneer TV figure and entertainer when television just started in the 1950s. He mimicked foreign language with thick accents in his shows; his famous character was Professor von Votsisnehm. Caesar said in an interview, in 2001, he studied language of people who visited his dad’s restaurant in New York. It was there that he picked up the language accents of different people, and then used it in his famous work.
Caesar served as a coastguard during the WWII. He then performed on stage in Broadway musical Tars and Spars. He performed and wrote his comedy sketches; later on the same was made into a feature film in 1946. Furthermore, Caesar also worked in 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Later on, he worked in Grease and Grease 2. He made sporadic appearances on TV during the 90s. He had struggled for twenty years with alcohol and pills that led to his waning career; he also suffered with substance abuse in the late ’70s. However, Sid Caesar was an iconic TV pioneer and a legendary comedian, and his contribution will always be remembered.
By Iqra Amjad