Sid Caesar, the deft side-splitter who helped establish the new medium of television as he also established himself as a comedy legend, has died. He was 91.
"He had not been well for a while. He was getting weak," family spokesman Eddy Friedfeld told the Associated Press.
With a deceptively simple philosophy of humor – "I don't take myself too seriously," he told PEOPLE in 1989. "I just laugh at myself a lot and call myself a dummy" – Isaac Sidney Caesar had been eliciting laughs since the Great Depression, when he mimicked the accents of customers who came into his Russian-Jewish parents' luncheonette in his native Yonkers, N.Y.
Trained as a teenage saxophonist in the Catskill Mountains' "Borscht Belt" (so named because the beet soup was a favorite among immigrant and first-generation American resort patrons), Caesar also honed his comic craft as a Catskills tummler, a sort of on-premises master emcee who kept the hard-to-please guests entertained throughout the day.