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Remembering Sid Caesar

Published Thursday, February 13, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EST
Feb 13 2014

Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar
(September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014)

(Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Sid Caesar, a comedic force of nature who became one of television's first stars in the early 1950s and influenced generations of comedians and comedy writers, died on Wednesday. He was 91.

Mr. Caesar largely faded from the public eye in his middle years as he struggled with crippling self-doubt and addiction to alcohol and pills. But from 1950 to 1954, he and his co-stars on the live 90-minute comedy-variety extravaganza 'Your Show of Shows' dominated the Saturday night viewing habits of millions of Americans. In New York, a group of Broadway theater owners tried to persuade NBC to switch the show to the middle of the week because, they said, it was ruining their Saturday business.

Albert Einstein was a Caesar fan. Alfred Hitchcock called Mr. Caesar the funniest performer since Charlie Chaplin.

Television comedy in its early days was dominated by boisterous veterans of vaudeville and radio who specialized in broad slapstick and snappy one-liners. Mr. Caesar introduced a different kind of humor to the small screen, at once more intimate and more absurd, based less on jokes or pratfalls than on characters and situations. It left an indelible mark on American comedy.

'If you want to find the urtexts of 'The Producers' and 'Blazing Saddles,' of 'Sleeper' and 'Annie Hall,' of 'All in the Family' and 'M*A*S*H' and 'Saturday Night Live,' ” Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times when he was its chief theater critic, 'check out the old kinescopes of Sid Caesar.'

A list of Mr. Caesar's writers over the years reads like a comedy all-star team. Woody Allen and Mel Brooks did some of their earliest writing for him. So did the most successful playwright in the history of the American stage, Neil Simon. Carl Reiner created one landmark sitcom, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show;' Larry Gelbart was the principal creative force behind another, 'M*A*S*H.' Mel Tolkin wrote numerous scripts for 'All in the Family.' The authors of the two longest-running Broadway musicals of the 1960s, Joseph Stein ('Fiddler on the Roof') and Michael Stewart ('Hello, Dolly!'), were Caesar alumni as well. (Click here for the full New York Times obituary.)


Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.

If I don't believe it, I don't care.

In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.

New Year's Eve we got five dollars for the evening- but that was from eight to unconscious.

The best thing about humor is that it shows people they're not alone.

The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.

The remote control changed our lives... The remote control took over the timing of the world. That's why you have road rage. You have people who have no patience, because you got immediate gratification. You got click, click, click, click. If it doesn't explode within three seconds, click click, click.

The trouble with telling a good story is that it invariably reminds the other fellow of a dull one.

When I did comedy I made fun of myself.If there was a buffoon, I played the buffoon. And people looked at me and said, 'Gee, that's like Uncle David', or 'That's like a friend of mine'. And they related through that. I didn't make fun of them. I made fun of me.

You gotta come down to go up.

You have to be prepared for luck. You have to work with luck.


YouTube video: Mel Brooks on working for Sid Caesar


YouTube video: Sid Caesar reminisces with Barry Mitchell.
ABC World News Now


YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 1 of 6

YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 2 of 6

YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 3 of 6

YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 4 of 6

YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 5 of 6

YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 6 of 6

Categories: ABC World News Now, Quotes of the day, Sid Caesar, Video, YouTube

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And so it goes...

Published Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 6:46 AM EDT
Aug 15 2012

(For all you World News Now fans):

Linda Ellerbee (born August 15, 1944) is an American journalist who is most known for several jobs at NBC News, including Washington, DC correspondent, host of the Nickelodeon network's Nick News, and reporter and co-anchor of NBC News Overnight, which was recognized by the jurors of the duPont Columbia Awards as "possibly the best written and most intelligent news program ever."

Ellerbee was born Linda Jane Smith in Bryan, Texas. She attended River Oaks Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, and Lamar High School in Houston.

She also attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, although she quit in 1964 without graduating.

Ellerbee traveled around the country for some time afterward, working itinerant jobs in radio. In her own words:

"I moved around some, married some, had two babies, worked for three radio stations, one of which hired me to read the news because I sounded black- my Texas heritage- and the black woman it had hired did not... In radio, I learned about keeping logs, editing audiotape, writing copy, selling air time, announcing, and "running a board," which sounds one hell of a lot more sporting than it is. After a stint working for Terry Miller, majority leader of the Alaska Senate, she was hired by the Dallas bureau of the Associated Press to write copy. She claims to have been fired after writing a catty personal letter on the AP's word processors and accidentally sending the letter out on the wire. The letter brought her to the attention of CBS television affiliate KHOU-TV, which hired her to replace Jessica Savitch in January 1973. Within several months she was hired by New York's WCBS-TV.

At NBC, Ellerbee worked as a reporter on The Today Show. Her first anchor job was on the prime-time version of Weekend. Ellerbee joined Lloyd Dobyns as co-host of Weekend when the show moved from its late-night time slot (where it rotated with SNL on Saturday nights) into direct prime time competition with CBS's 60 Minutes. As with the late-night incarnation, they would sign-off with the phrase, "And so it goes." A couple of years later, Ellerbee was again teamed with Dobyns (and later Bill Schechner) as hosts of NBC News Overnight, where their ineffable writing stylea made the show somewhat reminiscent of their stint on Weekend. They ended each broadcast with a short, usually wry, commentary, again signing off with the catchphrase, "And so it goes," which later became the title of her first memoir.

In 1986, after the cancellation of Overnight, Ellerbee moved to rival network ABC. There she served as a reporter for the morning program Good Morning America. At ABC, Ellerbee was able to co-write and co-anchor (with Ray Gandolf) Our World, a weekly primetime historical series. She won an Emmy Award for her work on that program.

In 1987, Ellerbee and her life and business partner Rolfe Tessem left network news to start their own production company, Lucky Duck Productions. The company has produced programs for every major cable network, and has as its flagship program Nick News, a news program for children on Nickelodeon. That show has received three Peabody Awards (including one personal Peabody given to Ellerbee for her coverage of the Clinton investigation), a duPont Columbia Award and three Emmys. In 2004, Ellerbee was honored with an Emmy for her WE: Women’s Entertainment network series When I Was a Girl.

In 1989, she guest-starred as herself in an episode of the sitcom Murphy Brown. The episode, "Summer of '77," referenced that Ellerbee had auditioned for the anchor job which eventually went to the title character, played by Candice Bergen. Murphy Brown also accuses Ellerbee of stealing her catchphrase "And so it goes..." from her during a long haul flight. The two reminisce with Ellerbee saying she might like to go back to an old network job, and Brown wanting to take some time off to write a book. Both reply with "Nahh...".

Her autobiography, And So It Goes, was published in 1986. A second book of memoirs, Move on: Adventures in the Real World was published in 1992 and third, Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table in 2005. In addition, she has authored an eight-part series of Girl Reporter books for young people, as well as a syndicated newspaper column.

In 1992, Ellerbee was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Since then, Ellerbee spends much of her time speaking to groups about how she fought the cancer and how women need to fight not only the disease and for better medical treatments of it, but to laugh in the face of cancer as well. (from Wikipedia)


Linda Ellerbee quotations:

Change is one form of hope; to risk change is to believe in tomorrow.

I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.

If men can run the world, why can't they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck?

If you believe in your heart that you are right, then you must fight with all your might to do it your way. Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time.

Nothing you think at twenty-five is so.

People are pretty much alike. It's only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities.

Putting people in a room and strapping wires to their wrist to find out if I make them tingle when I'm telling them about Beirut is a long way from Edward R. Murrow

Styles, like everything else, change. Style doesn't.

The two strongest messages we're sending through television are that popularity is everything, and that if it doesn't make money it's not worth anything.

Time doesn't go. Time stays. We go.

We call them Twinkies. You've seen them on television acting the news, modeling and fracturing the news while you wonder whether they've read the news- or if they've blow-dried their brains, too.

When the anchorman is wearing a colonel's uniform, it tells you something.


(YouTube video: Linda Ellerbee discusses "NBC News Overnight")

From the last NBC News Overnight:

And so it goes.

Categories: ABC World News Now, Linda Ellerbee, NBC News Overnight, News Media

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