Famous Veteran: Sid Caesar
"Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end."
Sidney "Sid" Caesar was born in 1922 in Yonkers, New York to Jewish immigrants. Max and Ida Caesar ran a restaurant where their three sons waited on tables, and it was amidst the many immigrants and tourists New York state provided that Caesar honed talents for entertainment and comedy. He learned how to mimic the accents and foreign words he heard on a daily basis, and entertained guests with his "double-speak" skills. As he grew older, Caesar developed an interest in music and played in the band Swingtime Six as a saxophonist while auditing classes at the Julliard School of Music.
After high school, having failed to join the musician's union, Caesar found occasional work playing music and performing comedy. In 1933, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and was stationed in Brooklyn, New York. Caesar noted a lack of morale on the base and thought a weekly Friday dance would lift everyone's spirits. He worked out the details with fellow musicians and pitched the idea to an officer who accepted it. Through his performances, Caesar showed off his entertainment forte to show producer Max Liebman by his ability to make other musicians laugh.
His work in the Coast Guard as an entertainer jump-started his career upon his release in 1945. After leaving the Coast Guard, Mr. Caesar went on to perform his comedy war routine both on stage and in movies, and continued under Liebman's guidance after the war. Despite all of his theatrical performances in the Catskills and Florida, he never forgot the service that launched his career. Caesar made his television debut in a variety show named "Admiral Broadway Review" and later renamed "Your Show of Shows," costarring comedian Imogene Coca.
Caesar's work predominantly focused on comedy and acting. He hosted a number of shows including "Caesar's Hour" and "Sid Caesar Invites You." In later years, he made occasional appearances on television and in night clubs, and continued acting in movies such as "History of the World," "Grease," and "Airport 1975." Caesar currently survives his late wife, Florence Levy.