NEW YORK – Jackie Mason, a rabbi-turned-comedian whose lively stand-up comedy took him to Catskills nightclubs, West Coast talk shows and Broadway stages, has died. He was 93.
Mason died Saturday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after being hospitalized for over two weeks, prominent attorney Raoul Felder told The Associated Press.
The irascible Freemason was known for his sharp wit and penetrating social comments, often about the fact that he was Jewish, men and women, and his own shortcomings. His typical style was amused outrage.
“Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest are cheating in Europe, ”he once joked. Another Freemason quote was: “Politics doesn’t make strange bedfellows, marriage does.” He once said of himself: “I was so confident, every time football players got into a crowd, I thought they were talking about me.”
His death has been mourned far and wide, from fellow comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who called him “one of the best,” to Sean Hannity, the Fox News Channel personality whom Mason described as “disrespectful, iconoclastic, funny, smart and one great American patriots “. ”
Mason was born Jacob Maza, the son of a rabbi. His three brothers became rabbis. So did Mason, who once had meetings in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Comedy eventually turned out to be a more persistent calling than God.
“A person has to feel emotionally sterile, empty, or frustrated to become a comedian,” he told The Associated Press in 1987. “You are looking for something and you are willing to pay a high price to get that attention. ”
Mason started out in show business as a social director at a resort in the Catskills. He was the guy who got everyone to play quizzes or shuffleboard. He also told jokes.
In 1961, the pint-sized comic got a big break, an appearance on Steve Allen’s weekly television variety show. His success led him to “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other programs. He was banned from the “Sullivan” show for two years after allegedly shaking the host’s finger when Sullivan signaled him during an appearance on October 18, 1964 to stop his act.
Mason Rabbi Hyman Krustofski spoke on television in 11 episodes of the long-running animated comedy “The Simpsons”.