Sid Caesar, the pioneer of TV sketch comedy during the 1950s and an inspiration to generations of comedians, died Feb. 12 at the age of 91.
After a short illness, Caesar passed away at his home in Beverley Hills.
Actor Rudy De Luca, a friend of the family, said Caesar had respiratory problems and other health problems for several years.
Show of Shows
Caesar became most famous for “Your Show of Shows” which aired in 1950. It lasted four years and was followed by “Caesar’s Hour.”
It combined sketches, musical revues and situation comedy. Sid Caesar was the first actor to use improvisation on TV.
Both shows featured writers who went on to become famous. They included writers such as Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen and Larry Gelbart. Woody Allen was also a contributor to Caesar’s comedy show as a writer for one of his specials.
“He was one of the truly great comedians of my time and one of the finest privileges I’ve had in my entire career was that I was able to work for him,” Woody Allen said in a statement.
Celebrities and fans react to Caesar’s death
Many fans took to Twitter to express their sympathies to Sid Caesar’s family. Others paid tribute to Sid Caesar, saying that he was an inspiration to them.
I’d like to think that I was a twig on the Sid Caesar family tree. Keep ’em laughing!!!
— Dick Van Dyke (@iammrvandy) February 13, 2014
— SAG Foundation (@SAGFoundation) February 13, 2014
— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron) February 13, 2014
RIP Sid Caesar. Thanks for showing me what comedy was all about. #oneofthegreats
— Joe Gatto (@Joe_Gatto) February 13, 2014
Lauren Forrester, a graduate from Humber College’s Comedy performance and writing course, said she recalls studying “Your Show of Shows.”
“We talked about stand-up, improvisation, scriptwriting, sketch comedy, and all other aspects of the craft,” she said.
At first, she didn’t know who Caesar was, but then realized he was one of her favourite comedian characters, Coach Calhoun from the film Grease.
Sid Caesar’s comedy legacy
Your Show of Shows was 90 minutes of live and original sketch comedy broadcast every Saturday night for 39 weeks a year.
It is considered the prototype for every U.S. TV sketch comedy series that followed, including Saturday Night Live.
Sid Caesar timeline
Sid Caesar was able to accomplish many things in his life. He had 10 Emmy nominations, won two Emmy awards, acted on Broadway as well as in TV and film.