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February 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sid Caesar, arguably the most popular comedian in the history of television, died on Wednesday at age 91. At his peak in the early 1950s, he attracted around 60 million viewers each week (at a time when the U.S. population was half what it is today and when not everyone owned a television set) as the costar with Imogene Coca of Your Show of Shows (1950-53) and as the title star of Caesar’s Hour (1954-57). But the pressure eventually got to him, and it showed … often with a tell-tale nervous cough during his weekly performances. His show was overtaken in the ratings by Lawrence Welk’s. By then, he was using booze and barbiturates to help him relax and sleep and other drugs to keep him alert. He eventually entered rehab, a move, he conceded later, that saved his life. In a statement on Wednesday, Carl Reiner, who appeared with Caesar on his two variety shows and was among the later-famous writers who created the comedy sketches on them, said, “Inarguably, he was the greatest single monologuist and skit comedian we ever had. Television owes him a debt of gratitude for his pioneering work and the great shows he gave us all. Render unto Caesar what is his due. He deserves real applause from the American people.”