Shelley Berman, comedian, dies at 92

Shelley Berman

Shelley Berman John Springer Collection CORBIS Corbis via Getty Images

Berman starred as Archibald Beechcroft in The Twilight Zone and played Larry David's father Nat in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Alzheimer's disease was cited as the cause of death. He made his first appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1959, the same year he released his first album, Inside Shelley Berman, which was the first record to win a Spoken Word Grammy Award.

The Chicago native trained as a serious actor before jumping into comedy as a nightclub performer. Berman had recurring roles on L.A. Law and Boston Legal, as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm. He was nominated for an Emmy award in 2008 for his performance as Larry's partially-blind, oft-crotchety father. He trained as an actor, with the Goodman School of Drama in his native Chicago and with the prestigious actress-teacher Uta Hagen in NY. At the time, he wasn't wearing trousers (someone had mistakenly taken them away to be pressed). They were married in 1947. Berman worked a series of summer stock and odd jobs, and eventually sold a sketch to Steve Allen for his Tonight show. His signature act drew from the powers of improvisation and an imaginary telephone.

Like Newhart, Berman became popular in the 1960s for routines doing fictional phone calls. "I work on a stool". He wasn't a joke teller nor a "sick" comedian.

Also in 1959, Berman performed at Broadway's Alvin Theatre in the musical comedy revue The Girls Against the Boys. It was the No. 2 album on the Billboard album chart for five weeks. "Then, after it came out, I went to play a show on Sunset Boulevard, and there was a line around the block!"

"I was a passionate fan of [Sahl]". "I'll pull the damn phones out of the wall!" he said. "I got a reputation for causing trouble, maybe because I am passionate about things", he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990, per THR. I will have more to say in this group in the days ahead, but Sarah (who I just spoke to) wanted me to let all of Shelley's Facebook fans know about Shelley's passing. The documentary shows Berman losing his temper backstage as a result. Berman ended up filing for bankruptcy. He turned to acting, though his career would never be the same. He was a celebrated television and stage actor, having appeared in a wide variety of productions, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Bewitched to The Odd Couple and Fiddler on the Roof. In the introduction to his 2013 book of poetry, To Laughter With Questions, Berman writes, "I have always written". Berman and his wife adopted a son, Joshua, as well, who died of a brain tumor in 1977 at the age of 12.

Latest News