Lenny Bruce

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.

Bruce, Lenny,

1925–66, American comedian, b. Long Island, N.Y., as Leonard Alfred Schneider. Possessed of a cynical, surreal, and intensely comic view of the world, Bruce brutally satirized such sensitive areas of American life as sex, religion, and race relations. His comedy left no group unscathed, and his routines were replete with four-letter words. Consequently, Bruce was at various times arrested and forbidden to perform; in 1964 he was convicted of obscenity charges stemming from a New York City performance. He was also arrested for narcotics violations. In Aug., 1966, he died of an overdose of narcotics at the age of 41. After his death Bruce became a cult figure, considered by many to be a martyr to the cause of free speech. His autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (1965), sold well, and his nightclub routines were collected and published as The Essential Lenny Bruce (1966). Lenny, a musical based on his life and including much of his comic material, was a hit on Broadway in 1971. After his cult popularity had diminished, he was still regarded as a seminal figure in American culture, whose influence could be seen in the work of important novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers of the 1970s. In 2003, Bruce was posthumously pardoned of his obscenity conviction by the governor of New York.


See biography by A. Goldman (with L. Schiller), Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!! (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Bruce, Lenny (b. Leonard Alfred Schneider)

(1925–66) comedian; born in Mineola, N.Y. He joined the navy at age 16 and served during World War II until 1946. He held various jobs while studying acting in New York. An appearance on the Arthur Godfrey television show brought him national attention. A stand-up nightclub entertainer, his scatalogical language and outrageous, sardonic humor was alternatively called obscene and "radically relevant." Denounced for blasphemy in Australia and banned from performing in England, he was arrested for obscenity after a Greenwich Village show in 1964. Increasingly paranoid, he died of a drug overdose. His autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, was published in 1965; the play Lenny was devoted to him; and he is regarded as having "liberated" a whole new generation of comedians.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Lenny Bruce and the Beat Generation proved that it could be cool to be Jewish.
(2) Leonard Schneider was born on Long Island in 1926; the comedian Lenny Bruce died at his home in Hollywood Hills in 1966 from an overdose of morphine.
Groucho Marx said it best five years after Lenny's death in 1971, by commenting, "I predict that in time Paul Krassner will wind up as the only live Lenny Bruce," and according to the FBI files on the author, Paul was described as "a raving, unconfined nut."
Lenny Bruce would have loved this sort of political landscape.
He used Lenny Bruce, the former dirty mouthed comedian, to demonstrate that reputation management was difficult, but in fact worth sustaining.
After that itAAEs not long before weAAEre in a paddy wagon with George and Lenny Bruce in Chicago at the end of 1962.
Time for me to split, then, but one more thing: before Monty Python there was "That Was The Week That Was," anchored by David Frost and known as TW3, and before that there was Lenny Bruce, American dope fiend and potty mouth.
Several city councils had decided to cancel shows by the comedian, whose style the New Yorker magazine described as "a cross between Lenny Bruce and Sacha Baron Cohen." Culture Minister Christine Albanel called it a "provocation" that "is hurtful and offensive."
, knowing all about Lenny Bruce. He was able to say "cool"
The rest of them fell about laughing as though they'd been listening to some verbal jousting between Oscar Wilde, Lenny Bruce and Billy Connolly.
The well-chosen examples include cartoonists such as Herblock, Bill Mauldin, Walt Kelly, and Jules Feiffer; comedians such as Mort Sahl, Bob Newhart, and Lenny Bruce; songwriters like Tom Lehrer; magazines like the Realist; performing groups such as the Second City; fiction such as Catch-22; movies, most notably Dr.
He collaborated with Albert Goldman on Ladies and Gentleman, Lenny Bruce and with Mailer on The Executioner's" Song and Oswald's Tale.