Jew of the Week: Sid Caesar

Greatest Comedian of All Time

Sid Caesar

Sid Caesar

Isaac Sidney Caesar (1922-2014) was born in New York, the third and youngest son of a mother from Russia and a father from Poland (given the name ‘Caesar’ by an immigration official). His parents ran a 24-hour eatery where, as a child, he would mimic and entertain the restaurant patrons. After high school, he intended to pursue a career in music as a saxophone player. From a small sax gig, he moved onto a dance band, then a comedy show when his jokes got more applause then his music. At the end of World War II (when he played for a military band), Caesar made his way to Hollywood and began starring in film. He also performed stand-up at comedy clubs, and had a stint on Broadway before focusing on television. Perhaps his most famous skit was double-talk, where he mimicked virtually any language perfectly, without actually saying anything intelligible (he only spoke English and Yiddish fluently). In the 1950s, Caesar was behind the greatest show on television, ‘Your Show of Shows’, watched by over 60 million people weekly. For this, he won his first Emmy, and was voted America’s Best Comedian. He would go on to make several other successful TV programs, and is even credited with helping make TV the dominant medium at a time when radio was still king. Caesar’s comedy is said to have revolutionized the entire genre, and inspired the next generation of comedians, many of which consider him the greatest funnyman of all time.  Meanwhile, he did a great deal of charity work (click here to see Caesar’s double-talk at Chabad fundraisers) and was happily married for 67 years. Sadly, Caesar passed away last week.

Words of the Week

When God created the first man, He showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him: ‘See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world—for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it.’
– Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 7:13