Yonkers, New York, USA
Full Name at Birth
Isaac Sidney Caesar
Actor/Actress, Production Manager, Soundtrack
Has Detailed Data (New)
Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar (September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014) was an American comic actor and writer, best known for the pioneering 1950s live television series Your Show of Shows, a 90-minute weekly show watched by 60 million people, and its successor Caesar's Hour, both of which influenced later generations of comedians. He also acted in movies; he played Coach Calhoun in Grease (1978) and its sequel Grease 2 (1982), and appeared in the films It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Silent Movie (1976), History of the World, Part I (1981), and Cannonball Run II (1984).
Profile Bio Text
Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar (September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014) was an American comic actor and writer best known for the television series Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. He was also a saxophonist and author of several books, including two autobiographies.
Caesar was the youngest of three sons born to Jewish immigrants living in Yonkers, New York. His father, Max, had emigrated from Poland; his mother, Ida (née Raphael), from the Russian Empire. The surname "Caesar" was given to Max, as a child, by an immigration official at Ellis Island.
Max and Ida Caesar ran a restaurant, a 24-hour luncheonette. By waiting on tables, their son learned to mimic the patois, rhythm and accents of the diverse clientele, a technique he termed "double-talk," which he would famously use throughout his career. He first tried his "double-talk" with a group of Italians, his head barely reaching above the table. They enjoyed it so much that they sent him over to a group of Poles to repeat his native-sounding patter in Polish, and so on with Russians, Hungarians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Lithuanians and Bulgarians. Despite his apparent fluency in many languages, Caesar could actually speak only English and Yiddish. Sid's older brother, David, was his comic mentor and "one-man cheering section." They created their earliest family sketches from movies of the day like "Test Pilot" and "Wings".
At fourteen, Caesar went to the Catskills Mountains as a saxophonist in Mike Cifichello's Swingtime Six band, and occasionally performed in sketches in the Borscht Belt. Later on, he would audit classes at the famed Julliard School of Music.
After graduating from Yonkers High School, Caesar left home, intent on a musical career. He arrived in New York City penniless, and failed to join the musicians' union. But he found work at the Vacationland Hotel on Swan Lake in the Catskills, as a saxophonist. Under the tutelage of Don Appel, the resort's social director, Caesar played in the dance band and learned to perform comedy, doing three shows a week. In 1939, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, and was stationed in Brooklyn, New York, where he played in military revues and shows. Vernon Duke, the famous composer of "Autumn in New York", "April in Paris", and "Taking a Chance on Love", was at the same base and collaborated with Caesar on musical revues.
During the summer of 1942, Caesar met his future wife, Florence Levy, at the Avon Lodge. They were married on July 17, 1943, and had three children: Michele, Rick, and Karen. After joining the musicians' union, he briefly played with Shep Fields, Claude Thornhill, Charlie Spivak, Art Mooney and Benny Goodman. Still in the service, Caesar was ordered to Palm Beach, Florida, where Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz were putting together a service revue called Tars and Spars. There he met the civilian director of the show, Max Liebman, who later produced his first television series. When Caesar's comedy got bigger applause than the musical numbers, Liebman asked him to do stand-up bits between the songs. Tars and Spars toured nationally, and became Caesar's first major gig as a comedian.
After the war, the Caesars moved to Hollywood. A film version of Tars and Spars was made by Columbia Pictures in 1946, and in it Caesar reprised his role. The next year, he acted in The Guilt of Janet Ames. But despite a few offers to play sidekick roles, he decided to return to New York, where he became the opening act for Joe E. Lewis at the Copacabana nightclub. He reunited with Max Liebman, who guided his stage material and presentation. That job led to a contract with the William Morris Agency and a nationwide tour. Caesar also 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.
Caesar's television career began with an appearance on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater. In early 1949, Caesar and Max Liebman met with Pat Weaver, vice president of television at NBC, which led to Caesar's first series, The Admiral Broadway Revue with Imogene Coca. The Friday show was simultaneously broadcast on NBC and the DuMont network, and was an immediate success. (In order for it to be carried on the only TV station then operating in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—DuMont's WDTV—the sponsor had to agree to a simulcast.) However, its sponsor, Admiral, an appliance company, could not keep up with the demand for its new television sets, so the show was cancelled after 26 weeks—ironically, on account of its runaway success. According to Caesar, an Admiral executive later told him the company had the choice of building a new factory, or continuing their sponsorship of Revue for another season.
Couple Profile Source
Yonkers High School
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
CESD Talent Agency
Actor, Comedian, Writer, Producer, Musician
Claim to Fame
Your Show of Shows, Caesar's Hour
Brown - Dark
Place of Death
Beverly Hills, California, USA
Cause of Death
Ida Raphael Caesar
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