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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAIL CAESAR!..., 1 Mar. 2005
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Caesar's Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful memoir that takes the reader down memory lane. As anyone one reading this biography knows, Sid Caesar was one of the foremost comedians of his time. In fact, he was actually ranked the third all time great comedian (after Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball) by a documentary about the greatest comedians of all time, which documentary was featured on the A & E cable television channel.
I know that my parents used to watch Cid Caesar's ground breaking television program, "Your Show of Shows". I myself was too young to have any recollection of it. I do, however, recall that as a young child, together with my family, I watched his subsequent show in the latter half of the nineteen fifties, "Caesar's Hour". Sid Caesar was the then king of comedy, and he broke trail for many of the comedians that were to follow him. Many of the greatest comedic writers to ever write for television started out writing for his shows. Greats such as Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen were among some of his writers. No wonder that era was heralded as the Golden Age of Television!
In his memoir, Sid Caesar talks only a little about himself on a very personal level. Still, he comes across as an intelligent man who dearly loves his wife of over sixty years. He acknowledges his personal foibles, such as a drinking problem that, at times, threatened to overwhelm him, as well as a never ending quest for creative perfection. This book is not so much about Caesar, the man, but rather about Caesar, the performing artist. Consequently, Sid Caesar the man remains a bit of a mystery. On the other hand, Sid Caesar, the performer, comes vividly to life. This is more of an artistic autobiography rather than a personal one.
He lovingly reminisces about how he got his start on the road to fame and fortune. Born in 1922 in Yonkers, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, Sid was an accomplished musician who could play the saxophone with the best of them. Having started out as a musician, Sid Caesar would cut his comedic teeth in the borscht belt of the Catskill Mountains. It was there that he would also meet Florence, the love of his life. At the onset of World War II, Sid would play with a number of orchestras in Manhattan, before signing up with the Coast Guard in 1942, and in 1943 he married his beloved Florence.
While in the Coast Guard, Sid became part of a successful revue for the troops, which raised his profile. This propelled him to Hollywood after his discharge from the Coast Guard, where he would become involved in the movie industry, starring in a number of comedies. From there, he would go on to perform for the nightclub circuit on the East Coast. Sid was not a stand-up comedian, but rather, a comedic sketch artist. From there it would be a short trip to Broadway, where Sid would achieve tremendous success in a revue called "Make Mine Manhattan", in which he would turn in an award-winning performance. This would lead him right to television, which was still in its nascent stage, and into the homes and hearts of millions of Americans.
This book is chock full of information on the early days of television, which had more in common with theatre and stage work than with film, as it was live television. Undoubtedly, this factor was responsible for much of the frenetic pace and spontaneity which existed. Today, television is more like film rather than stage work, as very little is shot live. Sid Caesar lovingly lays out for the reader many of his comedic sketches that were his special shtick. He meticulously explains how his comedic routines were fashioned and performed.
He speaks glowingly about his wonderful professional partnership with the late Imogene Coca, the googly-eyed comedienne, with whom he would be in perfect comedic harmony. They would make beautiful music together with their hilarious sketches that parodied slices of life and the human condition. Together, these two would touch a chord among audiences that would forever enshrine them in television history, making them the golden couple of the Golden Age of Television.
This is an engaging artistic biography that will appeal to fans of Sid Caesar and to those with an interest in the early years of television. Those readers who enjoy memoirs and biographies will likewise find this to be a worthwhile and interesting book.
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Caesar's Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter
Caesar's Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter by Eddy W. Friedfeld (Hardcover - 16 Oct. 2003)
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