The Year is 1949 and this new medium of Entertainment called TV has just arrived on the scene, there's this new comic from New York named Sid Caesar, who's also making his network debut as well. Sid's routine is about how dating had changed over a 10 year span, where in 1939 you could go to dinner, a show, drinks and a carriage ride for under five bucks, and then movies, forward to 1949 where you'd have to save up three months and still wind up broke doing everything and, in the end, his girlfriend says that regardless of what they did, it was the worse night.
Comedy Pioneer Sid Caesar passed away last week at 91, leaving nearly 80 years worth of comedy behind as a legacy, Sid was the genius behind sketch comedy television, without him we wouldn't have had Saturday Night Live, The Carol Burnett Show, MadTV or any other sketch show, and without those, we wouldn't get to enjoy a lifetime of famous comediennes and amazing sketch comedy. Sid Caesar set the standards for comedy and created, not only a show, but a team of writers who've created some of the best movies and television ever.
Sid Caesar started it all literally going back to when TV first began all the way back to the 1940s, Sid had the power to hold the audience in his hand and they stuck with him through three different sketch comedy shows: Admiral's revue, Your Show of Of Shows and Caesar's Hour. Each one brought a new brand of comedy while the players remained the same.
Caesar's writing staff including future MASH creator, Larry Gelbart, the Simon Brothers, Neil and Danny, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Howard Morris and Woody Allen. The writers room was known for some of the funniest moments without cameras or an actual script, Like when Caesar rejected an idea and would shoot them down with a tommy gun, or when he started charging Mel Brooks 20 bucks for every time he was late and he'd slide through the door like baseball player and Carl Reiner would yell "Safe!"
Along with the fellas, Sid also worked with two of the first women in TV, Imogene Coca, who was a perfect person to play off of him. They sparked together and it was evident especially when they portrayed the Higganloopers, a married couple who got themselves into situations that often seem outrageous, but were absolute true to life situations such as when Imogene's character backs her car into a pharmacy, then into the dealership, trying to get out of the pharmacy window and breaks the news to Sid, who nearly cries. When Imogene related this real-life story to Sid, he cried so hard he couldn't breathe, then suddenly sat up and realized the potential impact it would have, and it became one of their best known sketches.
His other onscreen wife was Nanette Fabaray, aunt of 1960s Star Shelley of Donna Reed, and later COACH fame, There was chemistry, but not as much as with Imogene because Coca wasn't afraid to push the limits, whereas Nanette was just holding back a little bit, and you could see the times where she and Sid were supposed to fight, but it was a different person and a different approaches to comedy.
Most of our generation remembers Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun from Grease and how he flunked the T-birds, sending them back to summer school their senior year. He, along with Eve Arden, gave guidance to the kids at Rydell High, and although it wasn't a big part, it was big enough.
One of his last movies was a TV movie with Valerie Harper and Shelley Fabares; he was able to exercise his comedy chops one last time, and included a bit of drama in the role as well.
Aside from his lengthy career, Sid Caesar also had the rare pleasure of being married for nearly 66 years to his beloved wife Florence until her death in 2010. Sid credited her with keeping him stable and sane all those years he was on TV, as well as his addiction to painkillers which he kicked after nearly 30 years.
I was really sad to hear Sid Caesar had died, I knew he'd been sick for such a long time and his advanced age, but it was still surprising. For me, it was like the end of an era, and I guess for our grandparents' generation it was as well. This man was an icon, and it was sad that the only tributes this comic genius received was from Conan O'Brien, who this week dedicated an entire show with Mel Brooks to discuss the impact of Sid Caesar, and I bet in this week's PEOPLE Magazine, he'll get even less, which is sad for someone who created an entire genre of television.
We focus our attention on those actors who died from drugs and alcohol, but we forget those whose lives ended because of natural causes, and who've really been given a chance to live and experience everything.
I know for myself, I idolized Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar because she was an unconventional beauty, she knew she'd never be as pretty as those big time actresses in movies, but she still used her comedic talents and Sid made her out to be beautiful, despite the chop on her bangs and the crooked teeth. He was the true definition of a gentleman.
He's what comics today should aspire to become.
What's your favorite memory of Sid Caesar, was there a favorite sketch or bit part in a movie you especially enjoyed?