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Comic Legend Sid Caesar Dies At 91

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Comic Legend Sid Caesar Dies At 91
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comic showman Sid Caesar, a pioneer of American television sketch comedy as the star and creative force of "Your Show of Shows" during the 1950s, died on Wednesday at age 91, according to his friend and former collaborator Carl Reiner.

Reiner told Reuters he learned of Caesar's death from a mutual friend, actor and writer Rudy De Luca, who had recently visited Caesar at his Los Angeles-area home. He said the veteran entertainer had been ill for at least a year.

While he enjoyed a career on TV, film and stage that spanned six decades but was marred by years of substance abuse, he is best-known for his work with comedienneImogene Coca on the landmark "Your Show of Shows," which aired on NBC from February 1950 to June 1954.

One of the most ambitious and demanding of all TV enterprises, "Your Show of Shows" was 90 minutes of live, original sketch comedy airing every Saturday night, 39 weeks a year. It is widely considered the prototype for every U.S. TV sketch comedy series that followed, including "Saturday Night Live."

"He was a unique talent, and he was a pioneer of television and entertainment when television was in its infancy," said Eddy Friedfeld, who helped Caesar write his 2003 autobiography "Caesar's Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter."

"Your Show of Shows" and its successor series, "Caesar's Hour," became an incubator for some of the greatest comic minds in American show business, with a roster of writers that included Neil SimonWoody AllenMel Brooks, Reiner (who also co-starred on the show) and Larry Gelbart.

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