Sid Caesar, who left an indelible mark on American comedy, has died at the age of 91. The news of his death was tweeted by Larry King who wrote: "Sorry to learn about the passing of Sid Caesar-a dear friend, a comic genius & an American classic- there will never be another one like him." Friend Carl Reiner confirmed the news to Reuters.
It's fair to say that without Sid Caesar we would have never had Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and so many more. All of these legends were writers for Caesar's variety show Your Show of Shows, which ran from 1950 to 1954, and also starred Imogene Coca. He followed up Your Show of Shows with Caesar's Hour. "Is there a single individual who influenced the world of comedy as profoundly as Sid Caesar? Not just a legend, but a true pioneer," Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican tweeted.
As Mike Barnes and Duane Byrge wrote in their Hollywood Reporter obituary of Caesar, one mark of Caesar's influence was how often he was fictionalized. Alan Brady of The Dick Van Dyke Show was inspired by Caesar; as was Max Prince of Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Caesar was also, reportedly, a physically intimidating man. "He's not only the funniest comic, but the strongest comic in the world," Brooks said of Caesar in a 2012 interview with Conan O'Brien. Caesar was not without his demons, and struggled with addiction to alcohol and barbiturates.
Caesar was familiar to younger audiences as Coach Calhoun in Grease and Grease 2.
Watch Caesar, Coca, and Reiner in action:
And Caesar and Coca here: