15. February 2014 · Comments Off on Sid Caesar 1922-2014 · Categories: Losses, Opera, Videos

I hadn’t heard until now that Sid Caesar died on the twelfth.

From the YouTube page:
[From “Kovacs Corner” on YouTube.com] – First telecast on “Caesar’s Hour” on October 10, 1955 over NBC, this kinescoped sketch is a take-off on the Italian opera “Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Sid plays the role of “Gallipacci” (“Canio” in the real opera) an actor in a traveling Italian comedia dell’arte troupe during the late 19th century. His wife “Rosa” (“Nedda” in tha actual opera), who is played by singer and comedienne Nanette Fabray, falls in love with fellow actor “Emilio” (the opera’s “Silvio” character), performed by Carl Reiner, and they make plans to elope. Sid sings a rendition of songs in a jibberish Italian dialect which he picked up in his youth from waiting tables at his father’s 24-hour blue-collar diner in Yonkers, New York. Straying off of the real opera’s musical score just a bit, we hear hilariously bastardized renditions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine”, and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” among others. Howie Morris (Ernest T. Bass from “The Andy Griffith Show”) is “Vesuvio” (whose real opera character is “Tonio”) and he performs a parody song and dance rountine to the tune “If I Know What You Know”. In one of the most famous “saves” in the history of live television, Sid was supposed to paint a teardrop on his cheek when the mascara pencil broke at the beginning of his nonsense rendition of “Just One of Those Things”. Not breaking his stride, Sid proceeds to pick up one of Nanette’s lip brushes and paints an unscripted tic-tac-toe board on his face. The grand finale concluded with a variation of the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” after Gallipacci takes care of the situation along the lines of a Mafia hit. Also, in the early days of live television, one time “specials” which pre-empted regular series programs were initially called “spectaculars”. Listen for a young Don Pardo introducing the sketch.

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