Shelley Berman (Sheldon Leonard Berman)

Shelley Berman

Shelley Berman began as a straight actor, receiving his training at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, honing his acting skills in stock companies in and around Chicago and New York City. In the mid-1950s, he became a member of Chicago’s Compass Players, which later evolved into The Second City. While performing improvised sketches with Compass, Berman began to develop solo pieces, often employing an imaginary telephone to take the place of an onstage partner. In 1957, Berman was hired as a comedian at Mister Kelly’s in Chicago, which led to other nightclub bookings, and a recording contract with Verve Records. His comedy albums earned him three gold records and he won the first Grammy Award for a spoken comedy recording. The first standup comedian to perform at Carnegie Hall, Berman appeared on numerous television specials and all of the major variety shows of the day. He starred on Broadway in A Family Affair and continued with stage work in The Odd Couple, Damn Yankees, Where’s Charley?, Fiddler on the Roof, Two by Two, I’m Not Rappaport, La Cage aux Folles, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and Guys & Dolls. Shelley Berman’s voice was used as the inspiration for the voice of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Fibber Fox, as performed by Daws Butler. Berman portrayed the role of Mendel Sorkin in an episode of CBS’s Rawhide (“The Peddler”, 1962).

Shelley Berman performed both comedic and dramatic roles on television, including appearances on episodes of The Twilight Zone (both radio and TV versions), Bewitched, Peter Gunn, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Adam-12, Emergency!, Brothers, Night Court, MacGyver, L.A. Law, Friends, Walker, Texas Ranger, The King of Queens, Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, Hannah Montana, CSI: NY and the revived Hawaii Five-0. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom Walter & Emily. From 2002 to 2009, Berman appeared as Larry David’s aged father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, a role for which he received a 2008 Emmy Award nomination. Among Berman’s film credits are Dementia (1955, with Shorty Rogers), The Best Man (1964, with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson), Divorce American Style (1967, with Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds), Every Home Should Have One (1970, with Marty Feldman), Beware! The Blob (1972, with Robert Walker Jr.), Rented Lips (1988, with Martin Mull and Robert Downey Jr.), Teen Witch (1989, with Robyn Lively and Zelda Rubinstein), The Last Producer (2000, with Burt Reynolds), Meet the Fockers (2004, with Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller), The Holiday (2006, with Cameron Diaz), and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008, with Adam Sandler). Shelley Berman died from Alzheimer’s disease-related complications at his home in Bell Canyon, California in the early morning of September 1, 2017. He was 92 years old.

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Born

  • February, 03, 1925
  • USA
  • Chicago, Illinois

Died

  • September, 01, 2017
  • USA
  • Bell Canyon, California

Cause of Death

  • Alzheimer's disease

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