Borscht Belt comic Jackie Mason died yesterday at age 93. In the early Sixties Mason began appearing on television's most popular variety shows. This came to a screeching halt in October of 1964 Ed Sullivan, host of The Ed Sullivan Show, thought that Mason had given him the finger during an appearance. Sullivan was mistaken but remained furious and cancelled Mason's contract for upcoming shows. Because of Sullivan, Mason was "branded as unreliable, volatile, and obscene" and Mason ended up virtually banned from substantial television work for the next two decades. It should be noted that Sullivan publicly apologized to Mason two years after the incident but by then the damage was done.
In 1985, Mason starred on Broadway in a two-year run of his one-man show The World According to Me!. This was followed by many other hit shows and film and television appearances.
Over the years, Jackie Mason won a Special Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, two Ace awards, two Emmy Awards, and a Prime-Time Emmy Award, and has been nominated for Grammy, a Lawrence Olivier Award, another Tony Award, and a Drama Desk Award..In 2005 Mason was voted #43 in the top 50 comedy acts and was names #63 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. He holds the record for the longest-running one-man show in Broadway history and for the longest-running stand-up show in London's West End.
Mason was noted for his sharp, irrevelent, sometimes politically incorrect humor, as well as for his delivery and voice and his prediliction for innuendo and puns. He was a very funny man.
Once a Democrat, Mason became a Republican, then a very right wing Republican. Among his controversial views was his ultra-pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian stance. His late political views do not resonate with me at all but that does not detract from his comedic genius.
Here's a sample: