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American actor, comic and writer Sid Caesar dead at 91

Life and times of Sid Caesar.
Life and times of Sid Caesar.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Sid Caesar passed away Wednesday from natural causes, he was 91 years old. Best known for being a pioneer of early television and for his pairing with fellow comic Imogene Coca. The comedy duo starred in the iconic television series "Your Show of Shows". Most of his younger fans will remember him from appearing in the musical "Grease" as Coach Calhoun and his co-starring appearances in the Mel Brooks comedies "Silent Movie" and "History of the World Part One". Caesar was also a noted Broadway performer and writer of two autobiographies about his life on and off stage.

Sid Caesar
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Born in on September 8. 1922 in Yonkers, New York. Sid Caesar grew up wanting to be a saxophone player. When he left Yonkers and headed off to Manhattan to ply his trade he ended up bouncing around doing several musical gigs before studying at the Julliard School of Music and later enlisting in the United States Coast Guard. During his time in the USCG, Caesar developed a knack for improv comedy and was inspired to continue on this course. After leaving the service he spent some time in Hollywood appearing in a few theatrical productions before heading back to New York. Whilst in NYC, Caesar performed on Broadway and was an opening act for comic Joe E. Brown.

Sid Caesar returned to showbiz by appearing on television. He first met his future co-star Imogene Coca on the production of Admiral Broadway Revue in 1949. The show lasted nineteen episodes but the comedic chemistry between the two led to them co-starring on the iconic television series "Your Show of Shows" in 1950. The series lasted four seasons and they worked with fellow rising comics Carl Reiner, Howard Morris and writers Neil Simon and Mel Brooks. Caesar followed the series with "Caesar's Hour" which last three seasons. The two shows innovated the way television was presented as a form of entertainment and paved the way for the situation and variety sketch comedy formats.

One of Caesar's most notable Hollywood performances was in the epic comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in the role of Melville Crump. His character gets trapped inside the basement of a hardware store and along with his wife "dig" their way out of the store. He also appeared in the disaster epic "Airport 1975", "Grease 2", "Cannonball Run II", "The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu", "Stoogemania" "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" and "Vegas Vacation". During the early eighties he wrote two autobiographies detailing his struggles with drugs and alcohol. He was also married to Florence Levy, wife of sixty-seven years who passed away in 2010.

Sid Caesar was a man of many talents whether it be the silver screen, stage or small screen. His sharp wit, great comic timing and expressionism made him one of the genre's greats and he will be missed. He is survived by his three children.

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