Why no Sid Caesar?

I enjoy watching old TV comedy shows and the Sid Caesar shows are some of my favorites.

I still see Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks on TV now and again, but I can’t remember seeing Sid on any TV show for so many years that I thought he had died, but he’s still very much alive.

Sometimes these older comedians have walk-ons on popular sitcoms so you still get to see them now and then.

So how did such a comic genius fall out of favor and why hasn’t anyone put him on a sitcom lately?

Maybe he doesn’t want to be on a show. After all, I doubt he needs the money. Or fame. And he is 91, fer Og’s sake.

Bob Newhart has appeared on BBT, and I really wish he hadn’t. Getting old can be a bitch, and I’d rather remember the Greats as they were when they were.

First personal quotation of Sid Caesar on his IMDb page:

Perhaps he doesn’t want to perform anymore, but I really doubt it. These guys were TV performers their entire careers and to suddenly not want to perform seems odd to me, with the exception of Johnny Carson who apparently shunned the spotlight after he retired from the Tonight Show.

BTW, I really enjoy watching Bob Newhart on BBT since it’s a chance to see dead pan comedy which you don’t really see that much anymore. YMMV.

I read somewhere that Sid still does some personal appearances, book signings and autograph sessions, so it’s not like he has a problem meeting his fans. And while he probably doesn’t need the money, having more money to leave for your kids or to donate to charity would be a good thing,

Okay… well that might answer my question. He doesn’t care any more, which I think is sad for such a talented man.

Sid MAY be too old.

Or he may just have no interest in performing any more.

But remember what Allan Brady was like on ***The Dick Van Dyke Show ***and what King Kaiser was like in My Favorite Year, and multiply that by about 10 times. Get the idea that Sid Caesar was a bully, a nutball and a real pain in the rear to work with?

The guy could be brilliant, no two ways about it, but it’s not surprising that people aren’t chomping at the bit to work with him. Even people who LIKE him will tell you he was both a heavy drinker and a mean drunk. He was also manic-depressive. Now, you can get away witrh that when you’re one of the biggest stars on TV, but when you’re an unemployed has-been, potential employers are likely to say, “He’s not worth the headaches.”

Sid Caesar made an appearance of Drew Caray’s “Whose Line is it Anyways” about 12 years ago. He was nearly unable to walk. He was very reliant on his cane. Twelve years later, he may be unable to walk at all or totally reliant on a walker.

He does have a couple of recent IMDB entries under the “Self” category. Including one on Broadway where he and many other famous actors and actresses discuss broadway from the 1930’s to 1950’s.

Caesar’s fall may have had to do with his alcoholism and problem with barbiturates. It grew very bad in the 60s and 70s; if you compare his looks in Your Show of Shows to what he looked like in the 70s, it’s clear he’s lost a lot of weight and looks frail (even considering how the old kinetoscopes made you look heavier.) He quit cold turkey in the 70s, but it had clearly taken its told.

It’s also hard to sustain a career, especially since Caesar was dependent on his writers.

Of course, Sid is 92 right now, so he probably isn’t up to performing. But everyone in the industry recognizes his talent.

I recall a extended interview with him on one of the news magazines in the early 80’s. I think it was 60 Minutes. He discussed his recovery from alcoholism. At that time he was very tanned and fit. He seemed interested in reviving his career. He wrote this book.

After that he disappeared from public view again. I guess no offers for a new tv show ever came. As others said, he had a terrible reputation and was considered difficult to work with.

That’s not what that quote says to me.

I found this exercise video he did in that early 80’s period. Skip to 4:40 and he’s shirtless. very fit for a guy in his sixties.

I think he was trying hard to send a message that he was sober, fit and ready to work again.

Marc Maron interviewed Mel Brooks on his WTF podcast, and Brooks talks a bit about Caesar, whom he visits regularly at his home. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but from his tone and the stuff he does say, it’s pretty clear that Sid has lost a lot of his faculties.

He worked very hard in the mid-80s to get out the message: I was a prick and unreliable, but that was because of the drugs. Now I’m clean and in terrific shape.

(A friend of mine who worked on SNL when Caesar hosted told me he touched the guy’s biceps to get his attention (“Excuse me, Sid?”) and it felt like iron.)

The book, the guest appearances, all were part of a concerted effort to get back into show business. It didn’t really work, though I’m not clear on why.

I guess that’s the heart of my question. If Sid wanted to get back into the business it seems like he was blackballed… which I still contend is a shame.

Carl Reiner said essentially the same thing. I thought one or the other of them was a little more explicit about Caesar not being all there, but at the very least they both made it clear that his health is not at all great.

There are a number of YouTube videos of Sid and all of his writers being interviewed in front of an audience in 2011 and he certainly appeared to have all of his mental faculties… but I didn’t see him walk around and he may have declined dramatically in the past 2 years.

Hell, we should be applauding the idea of a celebrity who knows when to quit.*

*looking at you, crepitating rock stars.

Brooks was also interviewed on The Nerdist and said that while Sid’s mind is okay his body is shot due to a severe neurological disorder. He is essentially bedridden, has difficulty speaking and he cannot feed himself, let alone walk or do physical comedy.

Thankfully, Brooks and Reiner are both very healthy and in great form. That show in fact has an amazing survival rate considering that it’s been 60 years.

That would explain it. Thanks everyone!

He appeared in a photoessay in National Lampoon around that time, I remember. Looked OK, as I recall.