In honor of Sid Caesar, which of these comedians who got their start on the Borscht Belt had the best schtick, in your opinion? Discuss the list here
Actress-comedienne Bea Arthur was born on May 13, 1922 in New York City to a Jewish family. She grew up in Maryland where her parents ran a dress shop. By the time she was 12 years old, she grew to be 5'9" and was the tallest girl in her school. She earned the title "wittiest" girl in her school, but Bea's family was not in show-business and she did not think her family would support her dream...
A social misfit, was kicked out of every school he ever attended, due to his uncontrollable wit. His mother (Frances) died of breast cancer when Richard was 18. His father (Charles) committed suicide when he was 22. A dedication is written to him in Richard Belzer's "UFO's, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Believe" (Ballantine Books, 1999).
The son of a saloonkeeper, Jack Benny (born Benny Kubelsky) began to study the violin at the age six, and his "ineptness" at it later become his trademark (in reality, he was a very accomplished player). When given the opportunity to play in live theatre professionally, Benny quit school and joined vaudeville...
Milton Berle was born Milton Berlinger on July 12, 1908, in New York City. He was educated at New York Professional Children's School and began performing at age 5. His first stage appearance was in "Florodora" in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He appeared at the Palace Theater in New York in 1931, then in nightclubs and theaters...
Perpetually glum standup comedian Joey Bishop was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb on February 3, 1918, in the Bronx, New York. He was the youngest of five children of Chana "Anna" (Siegel) and Jacob Gottlieb, a bicycle repairman. His father was an Austrian Jewish immigrant and his mother was a Romanian Jew...
Fanny Brice was a popular and influential American comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances but is best remembered as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl...
Melvin James Kaminsky was born on June 28th, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to television...
Lenny Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider on October 13, 1925, in Mineola, Long Island, New York. His British-born father, Myron, was a shoe clerk, his mother, Sadie, was a dancer. Lenny's parents were divorced when he was a child. To support herself and her son, Sadie Schneider persued a career in show business and sent Lenny to live with various aunts...
“ and Gracie Allen ” - yrnej
Although Red Buttons is best known as a stand-up comic, he is also a successful songwriter, an Academy Award-winning actor (and has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards) and an accomplished singer. Born Aaron Chwatt in New York City's Lower East Side, Buttons (who got his name from a uniform he...
Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia...
Rodney Dangerfield was born Jacob Cohen on November 22, 1921 in Deer Park, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. He was the son of Dorothy "Dotty" (Teitelbaum) and Phillip Cohen, who performed in vaudeville under the name Phil Roy. His father was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents, and his mother was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant...
The indefatigable nonagenarian finally put out an autobiography in 2005 and entitled it "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse", which pretty much says it all when recalling the misfit life and career of the fabulous, one-of-a-kind Phyllis Diller. It may inspire all those bored, discouraged and/or directionless...
She was truly one mother of a mom...on stage, on film and on TV. A favorite firecracker on 80s and 90s television, tiny character player Estelle Getty became best known for her carping, meddlesome moms -- complete with bemused, cynical looks, irreverent digs and dead-pan Henny Youngman
Brooklyn-born Buddy Hackett was known mainly as a nightclub comic, especially in Las Vegas, where he first performed in 1952 and wound up being one of the biggest headliners in that city's history. Hackett always referred to himself as a "saloon comic" and preferred the intimacy of his stage act--where he would often bring members of the audience up on stage with him--to films and television...
Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue,"...
Harvey Korman was a lanky, popular TV comedy veteran with a flair for broad comic characterizations, who shone for a decade as leading man and second banana par excellence on The Carol Burnett Show
but failed to find much success in his own projects. Harvey Herschel Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ellen (Blecher) and Cyril Raymond Korman...
Jerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926) is an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the duo's popular nightclub work...
Richard Philip Lewis was born on June 29, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York City and raised in Englewood, New Jersey. He went to Dwight Morrow High School (where John Travolta
went a few years later). He graduated from Ohio State University in 1969 with a degree in marketing and communications. He wrote an ad copy in New Jersey while also writing jokes for comedians such as Morty Gunty
Zero Mostel was born Samuel Joel Mostel on February 28, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, one of eight children of an Orthodox Jewish family. Raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the young Zero, known as Sammy, developed his talent for painting and drawing at art classes provided by the Educational Alliance...
Carl Reiner is a legend of American comedy, having achieved great success as a comic actor, a director, producer and recording artist. He has won nine Emmy Awards, three as an actor, three as a writer and two as a producer. He also won a Grammy Award for his "2,000 Year Old Man" album, based on his comedy routine with Mel Brooks
After the Golden Era of Hollywood ended, Don Rickles is one man still living to tell his tales. One of the most respected talents in entertainment, Rickles got his start in the night clubs, toiling for over 20 years, until 1958, when Don made his film debut in Run Silent Run Deep
. The movie was a big hit...
The Ritz Brothers
They followed in the huge clown shoes of the Marx Brothers and stumbled a bit in doing so, but the Ritz Brothers slapstick trio (comprised of Al Ritz
, Jimmy Ritz
and Harry Ritz
) were troupers all the way as they did their part in helping American audiences forget about the Depression and World War II...
Crowned as leading the new breed of modern comedians by Time magazine in 1960, Mort Sahl is the first entertainer ever to appear on its cover. Before comedy clubs existed, Sahl began performing at the hungry i music club in San Francisco in the early 1950s. He differed from other comedians, appearing in casual clothing rather than a suit...
As the short, hypertensive male counterpart of the stellar husband-and-wife comedy team "Stiller & Meara", Jerry Stiller and wife Anne Meara
were on top of the comedy game in the 1960s, a steady and hilarious presence on television variety, notably The Ed Sullivan Show
, on which they appeared 36 times...
As a kid in the 1930s growing up in a tough New York neighborhood, kinetic wiseguy Larry Storch took in the multi-ethnic flavor of his surroundings and started blurting out various accents as a juvenile to provoke laughs and earn attention. Little did he know that this early talent would take him on a six-decade journey as a prime actor and comedian...
Jonathan Harshman Winters III was born on November 11, 1925 in Dayton, Ohio. His father, also Jonathan, was a banker who became an alcoholic after being crushed in the Great Depression. His parents divorced in 1932. Jonathan and his mother then moved to Springfield to live with his grandmother. There his mother remarried and became a radio personality...
A career of seven decades of snappy, irreverent one-liners put Henry "Henny" Youngman at the top of most comedians' list of favorite showmen. Born in London, England, and moving to the United States when he was a baby, Youngman started his professional career as a printer in a small store. Naturally funny...