Entertainment News

  • 13 February 2014, 9:17

Sid Caesar, Grease's Coach Calhoun, Dies

Sid Caesar, best known for hosting a US variety show in the 1950s and his role as Coach Calhoun in the Grease films, has died aged 91.

The veteran comedian, who enjoyed huge success with the shows featuring comedy sketches and skits, reportedly died at his Beverly Hills home after a short illness.

Your Show of Shows was 90 minutes of live, original sketch comedy airing every Saturday night, 39 weeks a year.

It is widely considered the starting point for every US TV sketch comedy series that followed, including Saturday Night Live.

Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Neil Simon were among the writers on its successor, Caesar's Hour.

"He was the ultimate, he was the very best sketch artist and comedian that ever existed," Longtime collaborator Carl Reiner said of his friend.

"His ability to double talk every language known to man was impeccable."

Eddy Friedfeld, who helped Caesar write his 2003 autobiography Caesar's Hours, said: "He was a unique talent, and he was a pioneer of television and entertainment when television was in its infancy."

After his huge success in the 1950s, Caesar fell out of the limelight due to drug and alcohol.

In 1977, he was onstage in Regina, Canada, performing in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers when his mind went blank. He walked off stage, checked into a hospital and went cold turkey.

The following year he had big-screen time in blockbuster musical Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. He then reprised his role as Coach Calhoun in the sequel.

Talkshow host Larry King called Caesar "a dear friend, a comic genius and an American classic," adding on his Twitter feed: "There will never be another one like him."

Caesar, who was also a saxophonist and composer, won two Primetime Emmy Awards, for best actor in 1952 and best comedian in 1957 for Caesar's Hour.

He was also nominated for Emmys nine other times, most recently in 1997 for "Mad About You."

He won the Television Critics Association award for lifetime achievement in comedy in 2001.

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