Influential comedian and actor Shelley Berman, best known for bringing modern anxiety to early standup and playing Larry David's father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, died at his home in Bell Canyon, Calif., this morning, September 1.
Berman, a Chicago native and early member of the city's iconic Second City troupe, was a multi-talented man and a founding father of comedy who set precedents for the heights that the craft could reach.
Berman trained as a serious actor, but came to comedy via the Compass Players improv group in his home town of Chicago. His 1959 album Inside Shelley Berman was awarded a gold record and became the first comedy album to win a Grammy. And once he had established himself as a comedian, he went on to appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show more than 20 times.
Comedian Shelley Berman, who received an Emmy nomination in 2008 for his role as Larry David's father on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", has died at age 92. Berman was nominated for his performance on the show in 2008.
According to The AP, he often joked, "I'm not a standup comedian".
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As an actor, Berman was memorable as a guy who has some dirt on presidential candidate Cliff Robertson in Gore Vidal's The Best Man (1964); as the misanthropic Archibald Beechcroft, who wills everyone in the world to be just like him (to his eventual dismay), in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone; and as a hilariously senile judge on Boston Legal.
In his book Who's Who In Comedy, author Ronald L Smith said: 'Mostly critics praise Berman as a virtuoso satirist of modern angst and anxiety - an intellectual performer'. In it, his act was interrupted by a ringing phone, this in the days before cellphones, and he yelled "I'll pull the damn phones out of the wall" on camera, getting him a reputation as a troublemaker. In 2013, his collection of poetry, To Laughter With Questions, was published.
Berman is survived by his wife, Sarah, his daughter Rachel Berman, and two grandsons. His publicist, Glenn Schwartz, announced his death and attributed it to complications around Alzheimer's disease.
Thanks for all the laughs, Shelley Berman. His son, Joshua, died of cancer in 1977.