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Sid Caesar was a comedian and the creator of the classic Emmy Award-winning television variety program Your Show of Shows.
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Sid Caesar was born in 1922 in Yonkers, New York. The son of immigrants, Caesar worked as a musician during the Great Depression. At the start of World War II, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in Brooklyn, playing military revues. In the 1940s, Caesar developed a nightclub act on Broadway, which he turned into the popular and Emmy Award-winning television program Your Show of Shows. He also appeared in the Grease film musicals. Caesar died at the age of 91 on February 12,
"The best thing about humor is that it shows people they're not alone."
Famed comedian Sid Caesar was born in Yonkers, New York, on September 8, 1922, the youngest of three brothers. Both of his parents immigrated to the United States as children, his father from Poland and his mother from Russia. His last name was given to his father by an immigration officer at Ellis Island. The Caesar family ran a restaurant in Yonkers.
Caesar started out as a musician. He reportedly took up the saxophone after a customer left one behind at his parents' restaurant. During his years at Yonkers High School, Caesar began playing in a band. After graduating in 1939, he found work in the summer resorts in the Catskill Mountains. Caesar was hired as a musician, but he also started doing some comedy as well.
During World War II, Caesar served with the U.S. Coast Guard. His famous sense of humor was discovered by a producer who put him in a Coast Guard revue called Tars and Stars as a comedian. Caesar also appeared in a film version of the production that was released in 1946.
Caesar made his way to Broadway two years later, landing a role in Make Mine Manhattan. This popular revue helped him make the leap into an emerging medium—television—the following year. Caesar also starred on the variety show The Admiral Broadway Revue alongside Imogene Coca and Marge and Gower Champion. While this program didn't last long, the actor's next effort would make TV history.
In 1950, Sid Caesar quickly became a Saturday night favorite with Your Show of Shows, a sketch-comedy program also starring Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner, among others. He created a beloved array of characters, from the Professor to cool musician Progress Hornsby.
Additionally, Caesar was a gifted mine and mimic, earning himself comparisons to Charlie Chaplin. His talents were greatly enhanced by a stellar writing staff that included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart over the show's four-year run. Behind the scenes, Caesar battled with problems with alcohol.
After Your Show of Shows ended in 1954, Caesar moved on to his next successful TV project: Caesar's Hour. He won his second Emmy Award for his work on the variety show in 1957. Reuniting with Imogene Coca yet again, he went on to star in another entertainment program, Sid Caesar Invites You. Unfortunately, the project was short-lived.
In the early 1960s, Caesar returned to Broadway with a role in the musical comedy Little Me. He received a great deal of praise for his performance, including a Tony Award nomination.
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