Published: Sun, September 03, 2017
Culture | By Marion Pratt

Shelley Berman, stand-up and Curb Your Enthusiasm alum, dies at 92

Shelley Berman, stand-up and Curb Your Enthusiasm alum, dies at 92

Berman's friend Christopher Bay announced Berman's death on Facebook yesterday, saying: 'Shelley passed away this morning at 1:24am, at his home in Bell Canyon, California, due to complications from Alzheimer's. He had a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

The Grammy victor and Emmy-nominated actor was one of the most successful stand-up comedians of the 1950s and '60s.

Before heading out on stage with the Chicago improv troupe the Compass Players, Berman wrote skits for Steve Allen's Tonight Show. Berman first got the idea that comedy could be more than a string of one-liners in 1957 watching satirist Mort Sahl at the Chicago club Mister Kelly's. He would make seven comedy albums, including 1959's Inside Shelley Berman, which became not only the first comedy album to achieve gold certification, but the first non-music album to win a Grammy.

Comedian Shelley Berman, who played Larry David's dad on 'Curb,' dead at 92
Comedian and Broadway Veteran Shelley Berman Dies at 92

He would eventually record six albums for Verve Records, including Outside Shelley Berman and The Edge of Shelley Berman, both of which also went gold.

Comedian Shelley Berman, who was famous as a "sit-down" comedian and later as Larry David's dad on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", died on Friday. Berman was nominated for his performance on the show in 2008.

At his peak, Berman was asked to participate in NBC's documentary-style show "Comedian Backstage", for which he was followed around as he prepared for a 1962 nightclub act.

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According to The AP, he often joked, "I'm not a standup comedian".

His other memorable roles include Adam Sandler's father in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and the semi-senile Judge Robert Sanders on "Boston Legal".

Along with Bob Newhart and Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman helped change the tone and tenor of American humor. That year he issued his first album, "Inside Shelley Berman".

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"I was always one of those life-of-the-party boys", he admitted, "though I never stooped to wearing women's hats or lampshades".

Berman and his wife would travel across the country for several years looking for work while the actor and comic worked on his own solo sketches. Berman and his wife adopted a son, Joshua, as well, who died of a brain tumor in 1977 at the age of 12.

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