Archive for Comedians

Minnie Pearl

Posted in Mt. Hope Cemetery (TN) with tags , , on November 16, 2020 by Cade

October 25, 1912 – March 4, 1996

All together now: “How-DEEE!”

The stage of the Grand Ole Opry is hallowed ground. Whether it was the historic stage of the famed Ryman Auditorium, or the newfangled stage at the modern Opry House, setting foot upon it can be life-changing for anyone with the fortune to do so. It transforms performers. None more literally than a young comedienne named Sarah Colley, who stepped onto the Opry stage and became…Minnie Pearl.

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Dudley Moore

Posted in Hillside Cemetery (Scotch Plains) with tags , , , on October 26, 2020 by Cade

moored1April 19, 1935 – March 27, 2002

What Dudley Moore lacked in stature, he more than made up for in talent. The diminutive English actor/comedian was also a brilliant musician who learned to play organ and piano at a young age. His musical ability led to scholarships and eventually to Oxford, where he fell in love with jazz…and comedy.

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George Jessel

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags , , on March 11, 2019 by Cade

April 3, 1898 – May 23, 1981

Known as the “Toastmaster General,” vaudevillian funnyman, George Jessel, took his stage act to Hollywood in the 1920s. Over the course of his 60 year career, he appeared in radio, film and television in addition to recording songs and producing dozens of movies. His affable wit made him a popular emcee and he hosted a number of banquets and roasts for organizations like the Friars Club and the U.S.O. In 1925, he starred in the Broadway stage version of The Jazz Singer and caught the eye of Warner Bros. execs who decided to produce it as the first ever “talking” film. Jessel apparently demanded too much money to be in the movie and the role eventually and famously went to Al Jolson. Continue reading

Jan Murray

Posted in Hillside Memorial Park with tags , on December 3, 2018 by Cade

October 4, 1916 – July 2, 2006

Stand-up comedian-turned-actor, Jan Murray, got his start on vaudeville stages and broke out playing the “Borscht Belt” resorts in upstate New York. He went on to headline in Las Vegas and eventually found his way to California and onto television where he guest hosted or hosted, respectively, a number of variety and game shows. He worked with legends like Milton Berle, Joey Bishop and Steve Allen. He loved golf. And he made appearances on dozens of TV shows over the span of more than 30 years. He retired from performing in 2000 – citing struggles with asthma – and died six years later in Beverly Hills. Continue reading

Jackie “Moms” Mabley

Posted in Ferncliff Cemetery with tags , on February 27, 2014 by Cade

mabley1March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975

Did you hear the one about the young girl from North Carolina who lost both of her parents tragically as a child, was raped twice before the age of 14 and had to give up the resulting children for adoption? Hoo-boy! It’s hilarious!

Such were the beginnings of one of the most influential female stand-up comics of all time. Jackie Mabley (born Loretta Aiken) ran away from all that to start a life of comedy…because that’s really all you can do at that point. Fast forward a few years and we find “Moms” -as she’s now referred – as a very popular comedian who is known for her racy material and frumpy on-stage persona. Continue reading

Phil Silvers

Posted in Mt. Sinai Memorial Park with tags , , on February 26, 2014 by Cade

silvers1May 11, 1911 – November 1, 1985

Comedian and actor, Phil Silvers, got his start in movie houses entertaining audiences when the projectors would break down. He spent the early parts of his career on the Broadway stage and in short subject films. Made the leap to feature pictures, but found his biggest fame as Sgt. Ernest Bilko on the CBS television show You’ll Never Get Rich – which was later named The Phil Silvers Show, once it was deemed a hit. Silvers was known as “The King of Chutzpah” for his physical, slap-sticky brand of comedy. Continue reading

Ernie Kovacs

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , on December 17, 2013 by Cade

kovacs1January 23, 1919 – January 13, 1962

Modern television owes just about everything to the unbridled genius of Ernie Kovacs. His spontaneous, unexpected and often eccentric comedy style is either directly or indirectly responsible for shows like Saturday Night Live, The Muppet Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and Captain Kangaroo. He also influenced nearly all of the major talk show hosts of the last 30 years from Conan O’Brien to David Letterman. Kovacs was a true original. Continue reading

Marty Feldman

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , , on December 17, 2013 by Cade

feldman1July 08, 1934 – December 02, 1982

Just about everyone knows Marty Feldman and his distinctive (and ridiculous) eyes from his performance as Igor in Mel Brooks’ classic comedy Young Frankenstein. But, Feldman got his start in more famous circles even than that. As a young comedian in the U.K., Feldman appeared on television and wrote with many future comedy legends, including John Cleese and Graham Chapman – who would go on to co-found the iconic Monty Python comedy group. In fact some of Python’s more memorable sketches (“Four Yorkshiremen,” “Bookshop”) were co-written by Marty. Continue reading

Morey Amsterdam

Posted in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills with tags , , , on October 17, 2013 by Cade

amsterdam1December 14, 1908 – October 27, 1996

Nicknamed “The Human Joke Machine,” Morey Amsterdam was considered by many to be a…human joke machine. His ability to make a spontaneous joke about anything in rapid-fire succession led to many appearances on early TV variety shows and series. But, his biggest success was playing the role of comedy writer Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The role suited Amsterdam perfectly and allowed him to spitfire his natural flowing comedy within the perfect context of writing for the show’s fictitious The Alan Brady Show. Continue reading

Jimmy Durante

Posted in Holy Cross Cemetery with tags , , on October 15, 2013 by Cade

durante1February 10, 1893 – March 29, 1980

James Frances Durante and his nose were born in New York City to Italian immigrant parents. Young Jimmy dropped out of school to become a jazz and ragtime pianist. Something he was very good at. By the time he was 27, Durante had his very own New Orleans Jazz Band. But, his piano chops aside, Jimmy Durante was most famous for being a comedian. His self-deprecating humor – he called himself “The Great Schnozzola” because, well… – intentionally butchered language and staccatoed speech patterns earned him fame on the Vaudeville stages, the radio and, ultimately, film and television. Continue reading