Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Comedian Shelley Berman Dies At 92

Comedian Shelley Berman has died at the age of 92. Here he arrives at a reception for the 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.   Matt Sayles    
  AP Comedian Shelley Berman has died at the age of 92. Here he arrives at a reception for the 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Matt Sayles AP
Lamar Ellis | 03 September, 2017, 06:25

Sad news today, as it was announced via an official Facebook fan page that legendary comedian Shelley Berman passed away early this morning due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. The latter role gained the actor an Emmy nomination. At the time, he wasn't wearing trousers (someone had mistakenly taken them away to be pressed). In it, his act was interrupted by a ringing phone, this in the days before cellphones, and he yelled "I'll pull the damn phones out of the wall" on camera, getting him a reputation as a troublemaker.

The Chicago-born Berman, who came to stand-up comedy via the theater and Chicago's improvisational Compass Players, defied stand-up comedy convention: He did his act sitting down.

Among those paying tribute were Steve Martin, who tweeted: 'Thank you, Shelley Berman. I was not, in the strict sense of the word, a comedian. The LP was the first comedy album to go gold with 500,000 copies sold and made the Number two spot on the the Billboard 200 (American charts). "These people wanted an exciting program", he said. The documentary shows Berman losing his temper backstage as a result. He and his wife, Sarah, were forced to file for bankruptcy, and he began a long struggle to pay off his taxes and creditors. He turned to acting, though his career would never be the same.

His other memorable roles include Adam Sandler's father in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and the semi-senile Judge Robert Sanders on "Boston Legal". He was a celebrated television and stage actor, having appeared in a wide variety of productions, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Bewitched to The Odd Couple and Fiddler on the Roof. He returned to Broadway in 1962 in the musical comedy A Family Affair, directed by Harold Prince, and made his last Broadway appearance in 1980 in his solo comedy special Insideoutsideandallaround With Shelley Berman. He was also passionate about writing, and in 2013, released a poetry book, To Laughter With Questions. Berman taught at USC for more than 20 years. Berman and his wife adopted a son, Joshua, as well, who died of a brain tumor in 1977 at the age of 12.

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