Almanac: Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows"

Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar in "Your Show of Shows." On February 25, 1950, the landmark live TV comedy series premiered on NBC.

NBC/Photofest

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: February 25th, 1950, 68 years ago today … TV comedy's Day of Days, for that was the Saturday night "Your Show of Shows" premiered on NBC.

A pioneering all-live comedy extravaganza, "Your Show of Shows" starred 27-year-old Sid Caesar, aided and abetted by Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris.

For ninety minutes a week, thirty-nine weeks a year, Caesar churned out his uniquely wacky brand of comedy -- a grueling pace, as he told "Sunday Morning" years later":

"It was such a mixture of laughter and terror, because you knew that nine o'clock Saturday night, you had to be there, rain or shine -- that's it!"

And was he ever there -- flaunting his command of spontaneous gibberish ... parodying the popular show "This is Your Life":

SID CAESAR: This Is Your Story [This Is Your Life Spoof] (YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, Apr 3, 1954) by Sid Caesar: Your Show of Shows / Caesar's Hour / Admiral Broadway Revue on YouTube

… and memorably creating his own version of the passionate beach scene in the film "From Here to Eternity":

SID CAESAR: From Here to Obscurity (YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, Mar 5, 1954) by Sid Caesar: Your Show of Shows / Caesar's Hour / Admiral Broadway Revue on YouTube

Not that he did it all on his own.  His writers' room included the likes of Mel Brooks and Neil Simon.

For seven years "Your Show of Shows," and its successor, "Caesar's Hour," ruled Saturday Nights, only to be done in by the broader-based appeal of "The Lawrence Welk Show" on ABC.

Sid Caesar died in 2014 at the age of 91. But on DVDs and in the memory of his fans, his "Show of Shows" lives on.

Caesar wasn't the only one of his comic troupe to make it past age 90. Just this past Friday we learned of the death of Nannette Fabray, who succeeded Imogene Coca as Caesar's co-star on "Casear's Hour." Fabray was 97. 

As for Imogene Coca, she died in 2001 at age 92. 

       
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