Jackie Mason, legendary comedian who was anointed into pop culture by “The Simpsons,” and followed a path from rabbi to borscht-belt comic, has died at the age of 93.
Jackie Mason died on Saturday at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. His longtime friend Raoul Felder confirmed his death.
He said Mason was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago and suffered from a variety of ailments, including inflammation of the lungs. There are no indications that COVID-19 was a factor in the comedian’s death. He had been experiencing a number of health issues over the last few years.
Mason’s comedy career spans 60 years, with some huge successes along with some pretty big bumps along the way.
His big break came in 1960, when he appeared on “The Steve Allen Show” and killed. That led to huge bookings at various clubs and regular TV appearances, including “The Ed Sullivan Show” where he appeared 12 times … and then, disaster struck. In 1964, Mason was on Sullivan’s live show but it was partially preempted by a speech by then-President Lyndon Johnson.
When regular programming resumed, Mason was mid-way through his act and Sullivan was already counting him down with his finger “1 minute to go.” Mason responded by looking at audience members, saying “Here’s a finger for you, here’s a finger for you” … and so on.
He was damaged goods after that for years … club owners felt he was “crude and unpredictable.” Jackie Mason said, “It took 20 years to overcome what happened in that 1 minute.”
And, there was more, in a 1966 Vegas show, Mason mocked Frank Sinatra‘s marriage to young Mia Farrow “Frank soaks his dentures and Mia brushes her braces.” As the story goes … a gunman pumped a bullet into Mason’s hotel room.
Mason’s comedy was sometimes hilarious especially when he groused about his self-doubt. He joked, “When I attended a football game, every time the players went into a huddle, I thought they were talking about me.”
His biggest success came in 1986, with his one-man show “The World According to Me!” which ran on Broadway for 2 years and earned him a Tony and an Emmy for HBO’s take on the show.
The title of his autobiography underscores his Jewish humor — “Jackie, Oy!”
Jackie Mason was the voice of Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, Krusty the Clown’s dad, on “The Simpsons.”
Mason was born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisc. to a long line of rabbis. His family later moved New York City, where he originally joined the family trade becoming an ordained rabbi himself.
At the time of his death, Mason was surrounded by his wife, Jyll, and friend, Felder.