Jewish comedy legend Sid Caesar died today at his home in Beverly Hills, CA, Reuters reports. His longtime friend Carl Reiner announced the death, saying Caesar, who was 91, had been ill for the past year.
Caesar, who was born Isaac Sidney Caesar on September 8, 1922 in Yonkers, N.Y., is one of the first television stars, and the comedic forefather to much of what entertains us today. He first made his name in the early 1950s as a television performer in Your Show of Shows, a weekly variety show, where he began working with the likes of Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon. Caesar then got his own variety show, Caesar’s Hour, which was later followed by the Sid Caesar Show. He’d go on to collaborate often with Brooks and Reiner, appearing in several of Brooks’ movies.
Caesar’s breakthrough theater role was as Noble Eggelston in Little Me, Neil Simon’s first musical (here’s the Times’ review of the show’s 1962 run). In a perhaps fitting tribute to Caesar’s life and his work, a week-long run of Little Me concluded last week, starring Christian Borle (of Peter and the Starcatcher and the ill-fated Sound of Music Live) in Caesar’s role.
Caesar, a groundbreaking performer and one of the original kings of comedy, will be missed.