Biography of Sid Caesar (September 8, 1922 – )
Sid Caesar was born on September 8, 1922, in Yonkers, New York, U.S.A. to a family of Jewish immigrants. Growing up, young Sid spent time at his father’s lunch counter, where immigrant workers came to eat. Observing them, Sid Caesar learned to mimic their accents and languages, a skill that he used years later – in fact, he can fool people into thinking that he is actually fluent in a variety of languages, where in reality he only speaks English and Yiddish.
He had a gift for music and originally began his career as a saxophone player. However, World War II interrupted, and Sid Caesar served his country in the Coast Guard, where he organized entertainment for enlisted men. This eventually led him to Los Angeles, where he got a part in the film Tars and Spars, based on an original comedy sketch, and in The Guilt of Janet Ames.
On July 17, 1943, Sid Caesar married his wife, Florence Levy, the mother of his three children, and his wife until her death in 2010. After the end of World War II, Sid Caesar made his mark in comedy roles on the stage, including “Tars and Stars” and “Make Mine Manhatten” in 1948. In that same year, Sid Caesar made a guest appearance on Milton Berle’s landmark television show. The next year, he appeared on “The Admiral Broadway Revue” in his first television series, where he also appeared with Imogene Coca for the first time.
Starting in 1950, and continuing through 1954, Sid Caesar made television history with the series “Your Show of Shows”. This was a landmark series in many respects; it teamed Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Howard Morris and Carl Reiner every week for 90 minutes, doing a variety of comedy sketches, including “History as She Ain’t” satires of current movie and TV shows, and a recurring husband and wife skit, “The Hickenloopers” The comedy writers for the show are a virtual who’s who of comedy greats, including Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Mel Tolkin, and Larry Gelbart. In 1951 and 1952, Sid Caesar was voted the United States’ Best Comedian by Motion Picture Daily’s TV poll, and in 1953 he was voted Best Comedy Team (with Imogene Coca).
From 1954 to 1957, Sid Caesar tried to repeat his success with “Caesar’s Hour”, although with less success. In 1958, his third series, “Sid Caesar Invites You” was canceled. According to his autobiography, Where Have I Been? : An Autobiography, Sid Caesar turned to alcohol and drugs to help him deal with his depression at the series’ cancellation.
Despite the cancellation, Sid Caesar continued to work on stage (he was nominated for a Tony award for his 1962 performance in Neil Simon’s “Little Me”), as well as on television, and returned to motion pictures in 1963 as Melvin Crump in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He continued performing on stage, television and movies over the years, appearing on The Carol Burnett Show, The Danny Thomas Hour, The Sid Caesar Show, Love, American Style, Airport 1975, Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie and a return to fame as Coach Calhoun in Grease and Grease 2.
Since then, Sid Caesar has continued to appear in dozens of TV, motion picture and stage appearances.
Death of Sid Caesar
Sid Caesar died on February 12, 2014, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 91, after a short illness. He was preceded in death by his wife, Florence (2010) and survived by his children Karen, Michelle, and Rick, and two grandsons. He was interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.