Caesar, Sid (Isaac Sidney Caesar), 1922–2014, American comedian, one of the stars of the “golden age of live television,” b. Yonkers, N.Y. While performing in a World War II military show he met the producer Max Liebman who, impressed with Caesar's comic abilities, later sponsored him in club gigs and had him host the television variety show Admiral Broadway Review (1949). On Your Show of Shows (1950–54), in comedy that was generally driven by character or situation, Caesar performed skits, improvisations, satire, doubletalk rendered in dialect, and monologues, often with Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner. The show's brilliant corps of writers included Reiner, Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, and Mel Tolkin. Coca went on to her own television show, and Caesar returned with Caesar's Hour (1954–57). After the 1950s his television career was largely reduced to guest appearances. He also performed in a number of movies, including It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Silent Movie (1973), and Grease (1978).
See his memoirs, Where Have I Been? (1982) and Caesar's Hours (2003); T. Sennett, Your Show of Shows (rev. ed. 2002).
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(1922–) pillar of zany 1950s comedy. [TV: “Your Show of Shows” in Terrace, II, 290–291]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Caesar, (Sidney) Sid(1922– ) television comedian; born in Yonkers, N.Y. He began his career in show business while a teenager, playing saxophone and clarinet for the Shep Fields band. In the Coast Guard during World War II, he made his stage debut in a service show, Tars and Spars (1945), appearing in the 1946 film version. Master of pantomine, dialect, and doubletalk, he went on to star on National Broadcasting Company's Your Show of Shows (1950–54), a comedy variety series that is regarded as a high point of early television. For some years thereafter his career went into decline and he himself became an alcoholic. He starred in the Broadway musical, Little Me (1962–63), and appeared in occasional Hollywood films and television movies in the 1970s and the 1980s. He wrote his autobiography, Where Have I Been (1982).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.