Jackie Mason, 93, Died; Turns Kvetching into Golden Comedy


Mr. Mason’s career was taking off. He has been a regular on top television variety shows, recorded two albums for the Verve label (“I’m The World’s Greatest Comedian No One Knows Yet” and “I Want To Leave You With The Words Of A Great Comedian”) and wrote a book called “My Son Candidate”.

after tens of Appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Mr. Mason encountered disaster on October 18, 1964. A speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson predetermined the ongoing schedule while Mr. Mason was halfway through his action. On stage but out of camera range, Sullivan distracted the audience by pointing with two fingers, then one, how many minutes Mr. Mason had left. Annoyed, Mr. Mason answered the audience by raising his own fingers, “Here’s a finger for you, a finger for you and a finger for you.”

Sullivan, convinced that one of those fingers was an obscene gesture, canceled Mr. Mason’s six-show contract and refused to pay him for the performance. Mr. Mason sued and won.

The two later reconciled, but the damage was done. Club owners and booking agents now viewed him as “rude and unpredictable”.

“People are starting to think I’m some kind of sick maniac,” Mr. Mason told Look. “It took 20 years to get over what happened in that one minute.”

Mr. Mason’s career fell into a slump, punctuated by odd instances of bad luck. In Las Vegas in 1966, after saying a few ill-conceived words about Frank Sinatra’s last marriage to the much younger Mia Farrow (“Frank wets his dentures and Mia brushes his braces,” was a joke), an unidentified gunman The man shot. 22 pistols into the hotel room.


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