Tony Nominee Sid Caesar Passes Away at 91
According to published reports, actor and comedian Sid Caesar passed away today, February 12, in his home. He was 91 years old.
Caesar was a comic actor and writer best known for the television series Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, and as Coach Calhoun in Grease. He was also a saxophonist and author of several books, including two autobiographies.
Caesar performed in a Broadway revue Make Mine Manhattan, which featured "The Five Dollar Date," one of his first original pieces in which he sang, acted, double-talked, pantomimed, and wrote the music. His television career began with an appearance on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater. In early 1949, Sid and Max met with Pat Weaver, vice president of television at NBC, which led to Caesar's first series, The Admiral Broadway Revue with Imogene Coca.
On February 23, 1950, Caesar appeared in the first episode of Your Show of Shows, a Saturday night 90-minute variety program produced by Max Liebman (who had previously produced The Admiral Broadway Revue). The premiere featured Burgess Meredith as guest host, and other musical guests Gertrude Lawrence, Lily Pons, and Robert Merrill. Just a few months later, Sid Caesar returned with Caesar's Hour, a one-hour sketch/variety show with Morris, Reiner, Bea Arthur, and much of crew. Nanette Fabray replaced Imogene Coca who left to star in her own short-lived series. Ultimate creative and technical control was now in Caesar's hands. The show moved to the larger Century Theater and the weekly budget doubled to $125,000. The premier on September 27, 1954, featured Gina Lollobrigida.
Caesar's Hour was followed by Sid Caesar Invites You in 1958, briefly reuniting Caesar and Coca. In 1963, Caesar appeared on television, on stage, and in the movies. Several As Caesar Sees It specials evolved into the 1963-64 Sid Caesar Show(which alternated with Edie Adams in Here's Edie).
He starred with Virginia Martin in the Broadway musical Little Me, with book by Neil Simon, choreography by Bob Fosse, and music by Cy Coleman. Playing eight parts, with 32 costume changes, he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor (Musical). On film, Caesar and Edie Adams played a husband and wife drawn into a mad race to find buried loot in the screwball comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.