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Stand-up comedian and Simpsons star Jackie Mason dies aged 93

Written by on 25/07/2021

Stand-up comedian Jackie Mason – who went from rabbi to Broadway star – has died at the age of 93.

He died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York, his friend and lawyer Raoul Felder confirmed to Sky’s US partner NBC News.

He was having trouble breathing and had been at the hospital for two weeks before he died in his sleep.

Comic Jackie Mason addresses the media at Zanie's comedy club in Chicago, Wednesday, Aug 28, 2002, about the clubs decision to cancel comic Ray Hanania's appearance. Hanania was told hours before the show he couldn't perform because he is of Palestinian descent, Mason's manager said. (AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera)
Image: Mason’s stand up comedy was often deemed controversial . Pic: AP

“He died peacefully in his sleep with his wife and a few friends by his side,” Mr Felder said.

COVID-19 was not a factor in his death.

Mason, born in Wisconsin in 1928 as Yacov Moshe Maza, was known for his quick wit and social commentary, which took him from comedy clubs to LA chat shows and Broadway stages.

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An often controversial figure, he was famed for his “Borscht Belt” style of comedy, where he embraced Jewish themes and political incorrectness as part of his act.

He got his big break in 1961 when he performed on the Steve Allen variety show – which took him to the world famous Ed Sullivan show, which he ended up getting banned from in 1964 when he apparently gave the host the finger after being told to wrap up his act.

He was later allowed back on the show in 1966, after Sullivan admitted he had made a mistake, but Mason said the situation “basically destroyed my career for at least 10, 15 years”.

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Treading the boards, Mason won a Tony Award in 1987 for his show Jackie Mason’s The World According to Me!, which ran for 573 performances in New York.

His other shows included the likes of Politically Incorrect in 1994-95, Love Thy Neighbour in 1996-97 and Freshly Squeezed in 2005.

Mason also performed in front of the Queen when his show Fearless played in the West End in 2012.

His final show, The Ultimate Jew, skipped the Broadway stage, but was described by Variety as “one long jab at the world’s hypocrisy, dusted with one-liners from the ‘take my wife, please’ vaults”.

NEW YORK, NY- OCTOBER 12: Jackie Mason having dinner at the West Way Diner on October 12, 2015, in New York City. Credit: Joseph Marzullo/MediaPunch /IPX
Image: Mason, pictured here in 2015, won awards for his stage shows. Pic: Joseph Marzullo/MediaPunch/IPx/AP

As well as being a stage comedian, he also had a small recurring role on The Simpsons where he voiced Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, Krusty The Clown’s father, bagging himself an Emmy win for the part in 1992. He appeared most recently in the long-running animated show in 2014.

He also played himself in an episode of the NBC workplace comedy 30 Rock in 2007.

Elsewhere, he was a commentator for BBC Scotland during the OJ Simpson murder trial, and later appeared in the film Caddyshack II – known for being a box office flop.

More recently, he has uploaded more than 200 videos to YouTube where he gave his opinions on politics and current affairs.

He is survived by his wife Jyll Rosenfeld, and daughter Sheba.

 Sky News

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