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Hail Caesar!
February 12, 2014 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Funnyman Sid Caesar is dead at 91. "A comedic force of nature who became one of television's first stars," Sid Caesar brought madness and hilarity into the homes of millions. He was a master of dialect, non-sequiturs and breathless pacing.
posted by kinnakeet (70 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"There's a now, a was, and a gonna be. Now is now, and after now is a was. And what comes after the was is a gonna be. It hasn't happened yet. It's gonna happen as soon as the now is over. But if you have a good now, you're bound to have a good was and a good gonna be."

He had a good was, and if there's a gonna be, his will be a good one.

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posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:19 PM on February 12 [24 favorites]


Six years ago, a nice man who I had a crush on invited me over to his apartment to "watch Sid Caesar videos." I had never heard of Caesar at the time. That night we laughed a lot. And that nice man is my husband. So, clearly he did good.

The Haircuts
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:22 PM on February 12 [34 favorites]


And so young!

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posted by Madamina at 3:24 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


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posted by disclaimer at 3:28 PM on February 12


Your Show of Shows was on TV before my time. But when I was in college in Los Angeles in 1973, working on the school paper, I was given a review ticket for a preview screening of Ten from Your Show of Shows, a compilation of some of his best sketches. Sid Caesar was in the audience, sitting a couple of rows behind me. I was absolutely blown away by the sketches and wrote a review saying more or less "if you think our generation invented comedy you need to see what Sid Caesar was doing when we were in diapers".

I'm pretty sure that movie was put together when Caesar was in the midst of his struggles with depression and addiction, and I gathered it was partly an attempt by friends of his to help pull him out. Be that as it may, I was pleased to see him make such a strong comeback a few years later, and am glad he stayed around for as long as he did.
posted by Creosote at 3:30 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


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posted by Iridic at 3:31 PM on February 12


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posted by blob at 3:36 PM on February 12


Wow -- what a life!
posted by mazola at 3:38 PM on February 12


My dad was a huge fan of Sid Caesar, and he loved all the stories of the insanity that went on in the Your Show of Shows writing room, especially the time Caesar supposedly dangled a still wet-behind-the-ears Mel Brooks out of an 18th floor window for being too obnoxious.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:39 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


One of the Greats.

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posted by Splunge at 3:40 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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posted by h00py at 3:40 PM on February 12


The German General
posted by Iridic at 3:41 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]




The new, restored Criterion edition of It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (my favorite movie) was just released a few weeks back. It was my first exposure to Sid Ceasar, and still probably my favorite work of his. It's inevitable but still makes me sad how few of the IAMMMMW cast are left: now, one less.

Thanks for the laughs, Sid.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:43 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


This is your story.

One of the funniest people ever. Rest in Peace.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:54 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


> the time Caesar supposedly dangled a still wet-behind-the-ears Mel Brooks out of an 18th floor window for being too obnoxious.

Mel Brooks himself tells this story in an interview with (mefi's own!) Jesse Thorn last year.
posted by ardgedee at 3:54 PM on February 12


So... I'm nearly 67 years old. I grew up with Sid Ceasar (along with Red Skelton and Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason). I loved them all and now all gone.

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posted by jgaiser at 3:56 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I always knew that I'd see something good if Sid Caesar was involved. Very funny man.

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posted by arcticseal at 3:59 PM on February 12


Five Dollar Date.

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posted by Sys Rq at 4:01 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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posted by localroger at 4:01 PM on February 12


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:01 PM on February 12


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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:03 PM on February 12


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Hopefully it doesn't run in threes like they say
posted by mrgroweler at 4:04 PM on February 12




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posted by Cash4Lead at 4:15 PM on February 12


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posted by vibrotronica at 4:21 PM on February 12


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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:23 PM on February 12


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posted by condour75 at 4:31 PM on February 12


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posted by Francis7 at 4:34 PM on February 12


A classic bit: The Clock
posted by briank at 4:42 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Would love to have been a fly on the wall in the writers' room at Your Show of Shows. Just about everything I've ever found funny can be traced back to that room.

Having watched the episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, I hope that neither of them goes first. Let them go together, watching TV and eating sandwiches.

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posted by Knappster at 4:43 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Along with Howdy Doody, my old man's fondest televisual memories of his 50's childhood was Your Show of Shows. I remember one Xmas we were driving to a relatives house and we had one of those digitial trivia contraptions where you were given an answer and you had to give random clues. When my turn to give clues came, all I had to say was "Imogene Coca, Sid Ceasar.." before my Dad answered.

RIP, funny man.

*tuttas da horn*
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


"Caesar" is such a money last name to get at Ellis Island. There is no way he'd be as successful if his family kept whatever it was in the old country.
posted by Renoroc at 5:05 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


@ Sid Caesar was a rare comedic genius. He became famous during the era of live television, making everything work into a laugh. His uncanny ability to feign foreign accents is still one of the funniest things I've seen. Here's the full version of Gallipacci. Mata Hari

More Caesar mimicking

The Clock

Big Business
posted by Vibrissae at 5:06 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


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posted by jabo at 5:10 PM on February 12


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posted by the sobsister at 5:16 PM on February 12


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posted by detachd at 5:16 PM on February 12


Oh man, I can't find the clip from Mel Brook's Silent Movie where Did blinks his eyes for thirty seconds straight. Yes, that sounds dull. Yes, it is sidesplitting. He was a great.

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posted by theweasel at 5:23 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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Six years ago, a nice man who I had a crush on invited me over to his apartment to "watch Sid Caesar videos."

Man, do I love imagining that "come up to watch Sid Caesar videos" is the 21st century equivalent of inviting someone up to see your etchings.

And I really like to think that Caesar would too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:24 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Also, if you have never seen "My Favorite Year", it is a lovely tribute to "Your Show Of Shows" and Joe Bologna does a decent take on Sid as "King Kaiser". Plus Peter O'Toole.
posted by briank at 5:25 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


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posted by jquinby at 5:36 PM on February 12


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posted by Smart Dalek at 5:37 PM on February 12


I didn't even know he was sick.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:41 PM on February 12


Aw, that's two legends this week. No fair, Universe.

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posted by MissySedai at 5:46 PM on February 12


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posted by Fibognocchi at 5:50 PM on February 12




I knew him first as Coach Calhoun.

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posted by kimberussell at 6:17 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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A far greater Caesar than Julius (he should've had Will S. doing HIS PR)
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:29 PM on February 12


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posted by mkelley at 7:05 PM on February 12


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posted by dougzilla at 7:25 PM on February 12


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posted by wiskunde at 7:34 PM on February 12


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posted by scody at 7:37 PM on February 12


I was born in 1974 to parents born in the early 1950s who were old for their age, and grew up in a city that had a couple of UHF stations that broadcast old movies and television shows nonstop on the weekends.

Between Shirley Temple and now Sid Caesar, I am seriously losing a major chunk of my upbringing this week.

My sad of sads.

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posted by padraigin at 8:11 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


If you're interested in Caesar's shows or comedy in general, watch Caesar's Writers, a 2-hour reunion from 1996 with Caesar himself, head writer Mel Tolkin, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart, Aaron Ruben, Sheldon Keller, and Gary Belkin.

Caesar doesn't talk a lot; Reiner seems to take the lead in answering the interviewer's questions, and Gelbart patiently explains that they didn't all work on the same shows. Mark Evanier was there and talks about the event in some of these posts, which is where I learned of it.

RIP Sid, and thanks.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:35 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


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posted by Lynsey at 8:42 PM on February 12


This makes me sad. I'm going to go punch out a horse.
posted by oneironaut at 9:35 PM on February 12


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posted by MrBadExample at 9:55 PM on February 12


Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca starred on Saturday nights from February 1950 to June, 1954 during the season in the Show of Shows, a 90-minute comedy series presented live for five years. It was a singular triumph of the early days of television. Nothing like it was ever done before or since. There were some formidable comedians around in those days. I love Red Buttons' speech at Caesar's 80th birthday party at the Friars Club. When he said Caesar would be remembered for inventing a salad, I thought at once of this sketch, oddly still topical although it has been more than sixty years.
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posted by Anitanola at 10:13 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


A true Titan of comedy. He made me laugh all my life.

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posted by dbiedny at 11:09 PM on February 12


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Oh dear. A funny, funny man.
posted by On the Corner at 12:53 AM on February 13


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posted by putzface_dickman at 1:51 AM on February 13


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posted by Gelatin at 2:29 AM on February 13


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posted by tommasz at 5:32 AM on February 13


The LA Times obit has a story that isn't mentioned in the linked NYT obit:
With his flair for verbal and physical comedy honed while performing during his World War II service in the Coast Guard and in nightclubs and theaters after the war, Caesar burst on the national scene in 1949 as the star of the “Admiral Broadway Revue,” a live, hourlong show from New York that aired Friday nights simultaneously on NBC and the DuMont network.

The Max Liebman-produced show, which was built around Caesar and teamed him with comedic actress Imogene Coca for the first time, featured guest stars, comedy sketches and large production numbers.

The “Admiral Broadway Revue” was a hit — so much so that it was canceled after less than five months when the Admiral Corp. withdrew its sole sponsorship: It reportedly needed to use the money it had been putting into the program to build a new factory to keep up with the skyrocketing number of orders for its TV sets generated by the show.
His show was so successful he was fired. If that isn't a great showbiz story, I don't know what is.

Enjoy the gonna be, Sid.
posted by languagehat at 6:03 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


If you're interested in Caesar's shows or comedy in general, watch Caesar's Writers

Absolutely. My dad dragged me downstairs to watch it on PBS when it came out and I couldn't figure out why until I saw the array of talent on the stage. And then the clips.
posted by yerfatma at 6:14 AM on February 13


Sid Caesar and Lucille Ball were the first comedians my parents grew up watching that I really took to as a little kid. It took me a bit longer to acquire a taste for the others but Sid was just magic to me right off the bat.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:49 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


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.”
Holy crap.
Ho. Ly. Crap.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:55 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


One of the sketches in "Ten From Your Show of Shows" has maybe the weirdest throwaway exchange of dialogue I can remember. A group of business men are at a conference table taking their lunch break.

"Do you intend to engulf that entire pickle?"
"I'm not capable of eating a sandwich without engulfing an entire pickle."
posted by Flexagon at 11:46 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by Smedleyman at 8:41 PM on February 13


How Sid learned double-talk
posted by Iridic at 7:47 AM on February 14


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