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Pioneering US comic Sid Caesar dies aged 91

1 of 1 Billy Crystal presenting the Pioneer Award to Sid Caesar at the 2006 TV Land Awards
Billy Crystal presenting the Pioneer Award to Sid Caesar at the 2006 TV Land Awards

Pioneering US comic Sid Caesar has died after a brief illness. He was 91.

Family spokesman Eddy Friedfeld said Caesar died at his home in Los Angeles. “He had not been well for a while. He was getting weak,” said Friedfeld, who also wrote the comic’s 2003 biography Caesar’s Hour.

In his two most important TV series, Your Show of Shows (1950-54) and Caesar’s Hour (1954-57), Caesar displayed remarkable skill in pantomime, satire, mimicry, dialect and sketch comedy.

He also gathered a stable of young writers who went on to worldwide fame, including playwright Neil Simon (The Odd Couple) and movie director Woody Allen (Annie Hall).

"He was one of the truly great comedians of my time and one of the finest privileges I’ve had in my entire career was that I was able to work for him," said Allen.

Veteran comedian Carl Reiner, who worked as a writer-performer with Caesar on Your Show of Shows, said: "Sid Caesar set the template for everybody.

"He was without a doubt, inarguably, the greatest sketch comedian-monologist that television ever produced. He could ad-lib. He could do anything that was necessary to make an audience laugh."

Caesar was tall and powerful, with a clown’s loose limbs and rubbery face and a trademark mole on his left cheek. But he never went in for clowning or jokes, focusing on the mundane and the everyday.

“Real life is the true comedy,” he said in 2001. “Then everybody knows what you’re talking about.”

Here's Sid Caesar performing in four different languages:

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