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Hail Sid Caesar

Aired June 20, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Hail, Caesar, Sid Caesar, one of television's original kings of comedy, who led the dream team of geniuses that made "Your Show of Shows" during TV's golden age. We're going to remember the laughter and what it was like backstage creating all that classic comedy with the one, the only Sid Caesar, who's just turned 80. And he's here for the hour and he's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

A very special night tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. It's an evening with Sid Caesar. When can you get better than that? Sid Caesar, one of the giants in the history of American comedy and television. And in connection with that, we've got everything going. Sid's got "Hail Sid Caesar: The Sid Caesar Collection," "More of the Sid Caesar Collection." Now out on video and DVD is "Hail Sid Caesar." And all of it can be obtained at And you're going to be seeing lots of snippets from this extraordinary collection throughout this hour tonight, as we spend it with Sid Caesar, who on September 8 of this year, celebrated his 80th.

Do you feel 80?

SID CAESAR, "YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS" 1950-54: No. In my mind, I do -- in my body, I do, but not in my mind.

KING: What's it like to be 80? An old friend of mine, Duke Ziebert (ph) in Washington, said it's a bitch.

CAESAR: Well, you know, they say the golden age is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) The golden years are here. The golden years are that you got to have plenty of gold to go to the doctor's.


KING: Are you in good health?

CAESAR: Oh, yes, very good.

KING: What do you mean, "Oh, yes"?

CAESAR: Well, you know, you got to go for this, you got to -- as soon as something heals up, it just starts to heal, something else starts. And you got to accept it because that's what being 80 means, that little things start to fall apart. And you got to take care of them. You got to fix them.

KING: You were such a visual comic and a movement comic.

CAESAR: Oh, yes. Well, I used to work out. I used to go -- I used to go to the gym five, six times a week. I used to work out in my house. I used to work out and -- I still walk. I still take a walk in the morning. That starts the day for me.

KING: You followed Berle, but right in that whole idiom there in the '50s, there was nothing like the "Show of Shows" and Sid Caesar and the brilliant skits. And it may be the best comedy team ever, right?

CAESAR: I tell you, I was so lucky. I had the best writers, and I mean it, the best writers in the world because each of them -- now, every one of my writers has their own school of comedy. I mean, really -- Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner.

KING: Even Woody Allen.

CAESAR: Woody Allen. I mean, these are...

KING: Can you picture all these guys in a room?

CAESAR: They're all in the same room!


KING: They did a play about it called "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" that Neil Simon wrote.


KING: Did you like that play or not like? Because it made you out to be kind of crazy.

CAESAR: Yes, well, it showed that I drank and I took pills, but they never -- they never showed the reason why. Why did I take those pills? Why did I have to drink? Because on Tuesday night, when I would come home -- this is starting the week, right? Start Monday, and you're in the middle of everything Tuesday because you got to finish it by Wednesday. You have to finish...

KING: Show went on when?

CAESAR: Saturday night. And we started writing Monday morning, and the show had to be finished by Wednesday night, all written, and then it goes into copying and it goes into -- music has to be written.

KING: Rehearse.

CAESAR: Rehearsed and -- written. First it has to be written. Then the props have to be made and make-up has to be organized, costumes have to be gotten, arrangements have to be made. I mean, it's putting on a show.

KING: So what would happen to you on Tuesday night? CAESAR: Tuesday night I could never get to sleep because every time the -- yes, I'm going to go to sleep. Well, maybe we'll do it this way. No, we'll do it that way. No, we'll turn it around. If we do it the back way -- no, we did that last week. We couldn't -- we're kind of -- I mean, if we push it, then we take it out and we'll put it in and take it out and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And you go crazy!

KING: So you drank.

CAESAR: So if I drank, I drank myself to sleep. If I took -- I never took any -- I never took any -- I never drank or never took any pills when I was working.

KING: If I saw you on television, you were never drinking.

CAESAR: Never. I would never touch anything before. After -- after, when everything was put away, everything, that set, that set, that set -- Bring in the bottle.

KING: Were you tough to work for?

CAESAR: In a way, yes, I was. Very tough.

KING: Because you were very particular, right?

CAESAR: Well...

KING: You knew what you wanted.

CAESAR: I didn't want to settle. You know, it's hard because you got to settle because it comes to the point where the show is going to go on, rain or shine, 9:00 o'clock Saturday evening.

KING: This is live television, folks. We're not kidding here. This was live-live.


CAESAR: Live is a different animal than what they got today. It's a completely different animal because -- I remember I was -- Cecil -- Cecil...

KING: Sir Cedric Hardway (ph).

CAESAR: Sir Cedric Hardway. You're right. And I remember telling him, I said, You know, we -- this is a live performance. He said, Don't worry. I always get it within two or three takes. No, you didn't hear me. I said live. You only get one chance, one shot, that's it.


CAESAR: I'll never forget the time I was giving a lecture at Columbia University, and everybody in the audience -- they were all producers, directors and actors and this, and they always had something to do. And I talked for an hour, telling them the difference between live and tape. And then I said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a Q&A. And the first question I got, a guy stood up and said, Mr. Caesar, we understand that the show is an hour-and-a-half long and it was done live. But could you tell us, how long did it take to shoot the hour-and-a-half?


CAESAR: They didn't understand it.

KING: Yes.

CAESAR: Because -- well, what -- what did you -- If something didn't get a laugh what did you do? I said, We went a little faster.


KING: What you did was what you did.

CAESAR: Sure. You did it right in front of you.

CAESAR: They even did a movie about it called "My Favorite Year"...


KING: ... with Peter O'Toole.

CAESAR: Right. He was great.

KING: Oh, it was fantastic! Live? We're live?


PETER O'TOOLE: You mean it all goes into the camera lens and then just spills out into people's houses?



CAESAR: And you can't -- you don't know the expression on the face because they never think that -- you know, they're coming from Hollywood, where you can take three, four, five, eight, ten takes. But live? One shot?

KING: Your start was Broadway, right?

CAESAR: My start was the Catskills.

CAESAR: As a stand-up?

CAESAR: No, I was in the band.

KING: Oh, you played in the...

CAESAR: I was a musician. I played with Charlie Spivak (ph). I played with Shep Fields (ph). I played with Benny Goodman. That was -- you know...

KING: So what took you to humor?

CAESAR: First laugh I ever got on any stage was when I was in junior high. In junior high, I was -- my teacher asked me to play a solo. I said, Play a solo? Yes. We were at the piano. I played Saint-Saens "The Swan." Not a very good rendition. And I got up there, and I had the music on the stand. And all of a sudden, the spotlight hit me, you know, and I'm -- I couldn't see the music. So I took the stand with the music, and I walked over a little bit. And then I -- and the spotlight followed me. And I said -- I took the stand, and I went over here. And I wasn't doing it for laughs.

KING: But you got laughs.

CAESAR: But all of a sudden, the audience started to laugh, and I was thrilled. I mean, I wasn't looking for laughs. I said, Geez, you know, walked over this way, that way. That was the first laughs I ever got. And my father was mad! He said, Why did you make a fool of yourself? You were up there to play a solo. I said, Pop, they laughed. What am I going to do? I couldn't see the music.

KING: More of the career of Sid Caesar. And now all these wonderful tapes, and you can see some of the funniest television. You'll see some clips of it throughout the show tonight. The funniest television ever done was done on "Your Show of Shows" -- painful laughs.

Right back with Sid Caesar, an octogenarian. Oh-ho!

CAESAR: That's right.

KING: Don't go away.

CAESAR: Oh-ho!

KING: Oh-ho!




KING: Sid Caesar, one of the giants. By the way, there's new interest in you, college campuses selling all these DVDs. And now you're scheduled to shoot a part in a new film, "Comic Book," the movie scene with Jonathan Winters, with whom you're -- tell me about this.

CAESAR: I met Jonathan on "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

KING: Not a great movie, but fun.

CAESAR: Yes, because you had -- you couldn't miss. You had the top comedians in the world.

CAESAR: Durante, Berle.

CAESAR: Oh, the top. And the one thing was, can you imagine 17, 18 comedians sitting around, waiting in the morning, at 8:00 o'clock? This is the scene. There's Berle, there's every comedian you can -- Dick Shawn...

KING: Red Buttons.

CAESAR: ... Red Buttons. They're all there. And we're sitting and looking at each other. And who would get up? Jonathan Winters. And he would ad lib off the top of his head, and we'd laugh. I mean, really laugh, because -- and other times he got up, he was quite serious. And he made a story that, you know, you felt a little tearful. And he has that -- creating characters right in front of you.

KING: Amazing.

CAESAR: It's -- and he is amazing.

KING: So are you going to do something with him?


KING: What?

CAESAR: We're going to ad lib. We're just going to do a thing, you know, where he says something, and I say -- and I answer him in different languages. No explanation.

KING: And by the way, for the benefit of the audience, you can't speak any foreign language, right?


KING: You don't -- you do not know a word for a foreign language.

CAESAR: I know a few words here and there.

KING: But basically, it's all...

CAESAR: Yes, it's all -- like French.

KING: French.



KING: Now, you don't know a word you're saying?

CAESAR: No, but I'm thinking in English.

KING: You're thinking in English?


KING: And with Jonathan, he's going to do what? He's going to say something...

CAESAR: He's going to be taking -- he's going to be doing different characters. Every time I talk to him, it's a different character, and I answer him in a different language. It makes no sense at all.

KING: And where is this going to be, on a -- on a TV -- on a...

CAESAR: It's called "Comic Book: The Movie." And it's like a -- there's a guy who made a comic book, and we thought we invented him. No, I invented him. No, you invented him. Did he invent him? No. He didn't -- then I talk to him. (SPEAKS IN PSEUDO-ITALIAN)


KING: Lies!

CAESAR: You know, at one time, the guy who did the scenery -- I forget his name -- he was doing a show in Philadelphia. And he went there, and during intermission, he came out. And the show was on. So he went into the bar and he sat down, and the bartender said -- and we announced there's going to be an Italian movie. And the bartender said, All right, everybody drink up now because you know no ordering during the movie. He's going to make an Italian movie. And this bartender interpreted for the people sitting at the bar what I was saying.


KING: And you don't know what you were saying.

CAESAR: And I didn't know what I was saying, but he interpreted it.

KING: Now, you capture it by having an ear, right?


KING: Like you do a -- you do -- hard to believe Sid Caesar would do a great Japanese person.




KING: So you do Italian?

CAESAR: Italian, German, French, Arabic.

KING: Arabic?



KING: And of course, the famed Sid Caesar, German.



KING: Was success a big burden for you, Sid?

CAESAR: Yes because it was...

KING: You were a shy guy. For example, you weren't a stand-up comic. It was hard for you at the end of the show to say good night.


KING: You just said good night, and you got off. I mean, you had to be in skits.

CAESAR: Yes, I had to hide behind a character because I didn't have enough faith in myself. It's a fact, you know?


KING: You had a great time, obviously.

CAESAR: When I was working, if it was a good show and, you know, all the -- everything worked, oh, it felt great for an hour-and-a- half. But Monday we had to start all over again with new sketches and new this and new that. But we used to get -- like the professor. We could go back to him, like, every other...

CAESAR: Recurring characters.

CAESAR: Right.

KING: That you played.

CAESAR: Yes. Because if you had that, at least you got something that you can start with.

KING: Our guest, Sid Caesar. You're seeing highlights of this extraordinary career and the things that -- they would make fun of Edward R. Murrow and "This Is Your Life" and classic bits. Right back with more of Sid Caesar. All of the DVDs are available on, the video collection. Don't go away.



(VIDEO CLIP FROM "YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS") KING: We're paying tribute tonight to a wonderful guy and a -- what a story in the history of American television. Sid Caesar has his own special place, "Your Show of Shows." The big stars then were Berle, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca...

CAESAR: Jackie Gleason.

KING: ... Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, right?

CAESAR: Red Buttons.

KING: Red Buttons had a major show.

CAESAR: Oh! Yes.


KING: Now, the true story. Did you hold Mel Brooks out of the window in the hotel in Chicago?


KING: Did he say, I want to go out? What happened?

CAESAR: What happened was this. I was doing eight or nine shows at the Chicago Theater. And I can't eat in between shows because if I eat, it slows me down and I can't work. So I would take little snippets, you know, during the intermission.

KING: The shows were skits?

CAESAR: There were skits and there were stand-ups in there. I was working with Imogene and with Carl. And you're working from, actually, 9:00 o'clock in the morning until about 11:00 o'clock at night. And that's a long time without a meal.

So I called the hotel and I said, I want a beautiful steak, medium rare. I want a baked potato, and I want a bottle of burgundy, sparkling burgundy. Oh! And I looked forward to that. And finally, I'm back at the hotel. I don't have to do the shows. Sit down with a robe, and nice, and I put into this thing, and Mel says, I want to go out. I got to get out, Sid. I want to go out. I said, No. I just sat down to eat. Sid, I've been there all day with you. And we're going back and forth. I mean, I got to get out of here. I got to get out. I was in the theater with you all day. I got to get out. I want to go out. I want to go out, Sid. And he wouldn't let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

And I put down the knife and fork. You want to go out? OK. I get up, I grabbed him by the back of the neck, and I opened the window. And I put him out the window. Is that far -- is that out far enough?


CAESAR: Do you want to go out a little further? And he said, No, I'm out far enough.

KING: What floor are you on?

CAESAR: The 18th floor.


CAESAR: The 18th floor, and I'm holding him out the window. My brother comes over, Sid, you're nuts! Grabbed us back in.

KING: You -- I remember we did a long show about alcohol and you...


KING: ... and how your wife helped you, right?


KING: I mean, you were a drunk.

CAESAR: Yes, I was a drunk. I was what they call a "hurry-up drinker."

KING: Meaning?

CAESAR: Meaning I got to get drunk by 10:00 o'clock because I got to go to sleep and got to get up early in the morning. But to get to go to sleep, I had to drink. And then, all of a sudden, the doctor said, He's drinking. He's drinking. So they gave me some sleeping pills. So I took the sleeping pills, and then I took a drink. And boy, it worked faster. Oh, this is great now! So I took the drink with the pills.

KING: What did that do to you?

CAESAR: Boom! You went right to sleep. But I never had a hangover. The terrible part was I never had a hangover. Isn't that something?

KING: So it's hurting you, and you don't even know it.

CAESAR: Oh, sure. Oh, sure.

KING: How did you stop?

CAESAR: I stopped because I was in Regina Saskatchewan in Canada. I was doing a show there called "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" by Neil Simon. And for the first time in my life, I walked out on the stage and I couldn't think of my lines. And to me, I mean, to memorize them is -- boom! -- like this. And I couldn't -- I just stood there. And I felt so embarrassed and so -- I mean, and I had to walk off the stage because I couldn't remember a line. Nothing!

And I went into my little dressing room, and it was next to the stove in the kitchen. And I sat down and I looked into the mirror and I said, "Sid, you want to live or you want to die?" That was the truth. I said, There's no gray area here. Yes or no? And I looked at it and I said, "I want to live." and that's when I called the hospital, the first time I ever asked for help. I went into the hospital, and they took me off the booze and the pills and...

KING: Did you have to go to AA or anything?

CAESAR: No. I just -- see, if something's going to hurt me and somebody brings my attention to it, then I stop. And I can.

KING: And then you became a physical fitness nut. I remember you...

CAESAR: I turned around...

KING: You went from being overweight to being slim.

CAESAR: Oh, I -- I went to the gym. I went on a diet. I ate no fat, no fat at all. the only fat I have is olive oil, a little olive oil and that's it. The rest, I watch what I eat and I watch how much I eat. And you got to be careful and -- because when you have those colonoscopies -- Whew! Whoa! But you have to -- when you have to do something, you'll do it.

KING: What was it like to be on top of the world? You were on -- I mean, you had it all.

CAESAR: Very scary.

KING: Scary to you.

CAESAR: Very, very scary because I didn't know, can I do this again? You see, you're always looking for, Where is it going to happen? Where's the trick? Where's the -- and I can't -- This can't be me. I'm not doing this. I didn't believe in myself. So I had no faith. I had -- I was always on a...

KING: Despite how well the show was doing.

CAESAR: Right. Out of all proportion because, you know, you're not thinking right. You're thinking wrong. You're thinking, I got to do this and I got to do that. And if you think of everything separately and you put it all together, you think, How the hell am I going to do it? And then you let yourself alone and you get into the show. See, there's one big thing about live. In live, you're in charge.

KING: Damn right.

CAESAR: The editor, the guy who cuts, you know, he doesn't know comedy, right? He does -- how much -- you need 14 seconds? OK, you got your 14 seconds. That was the punchline, though. That's OK. It's all right. Because they don't know. They don't care. Because when I was doing the show, to break in a director -- Hino Whipp (ph) was the one guy. He knew me like a clock. I banked on him. And the other directors who were the directors, they always used to go to the guy who's talking. I said, No. See what -- Now go to the fellow he's talking to because it's reaction.


CAESAR: The reaction is the comedy.

KING: It's funnier than the line.


KING: Sid Caesar's our guest tonight. All of these tapes that you're watching can be obtained. for the video collection, digitally restored. I want to ask him about what he thinks of the digital process.


KING: Don't go away. We'll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professor, you seem in very -- very good spirits.

CAESAR: Oh, yes. I've just conquered Mount (SPEAKING IN GERMAN).


CAESAR: Yes. I conquered it. I conquered it with my partner (SPEAKING IN GERMAN) over there. Yes, he climbed up on roller skates. I told him not to do it.


CAESAR: He insisted he was a tree fellow (ph). He was on the other end and all of a sudden, nothing. You know? But you can't let your spirits get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, professor, I imagine you wear that robe about you in memory and respect for him.

CAESAR: No, keeps my pants up.


KING: We're back with Sid Caesar. "The Sid Caesar Collection" has a "fan favorite" series. Sketches the fans seem to -- do you agree with them, by the way, usually?

CAESAR: Yes. Yes. Yes.

KING: But I bet you have some favorites they didn't pick. CAESAR: Oh, yes. There's a lot of them that I wanted to do. Like we did a silent movie in a satire of "My Fair Lady."

KING: A silent movie?

CAESAR: There's a silent movie.

KING: What do you make of this digitally restored stuff?

CAESAR: I didn't believe it, Larry. I went there -- the clock, this is what they did it on.

KING: The clock where you come out in character?

CAESAR: All the characters come out.

KING: Like an old Swiss clock and you hit each other on the head.

CAESAR: Right. And we did this, and we did it to music. And then, I -- it was all scratched and the sound wasn't good. Then they put it through this digital process and they put it side by side. And I looked at it, it was like -- it's like having your baby reborn. I said, it's better than when we did it -- when we first did it, because we did it on kinescope.

KING: Yes.

CAESAR: This is now on film. And it's in digital. Oh, Gee, it was like such a wonderful feeling. I said, this all can be restored? Oh, that's...

KING: Your life can -- it's forever now.

CAESAR: It's unbelievable.

KING: Because kinescope sure wasn't forever.

CAESAR: That's right.

KING: Were you nervous before you went on?

CAESAR: Yes. Always. because if you're not nervous, something's wrong, because you got to get up, you got to get that feeling.

KING: How did you find Imogene Coca?

CAESAR: Imogene Coca was like a blessing. She was not only a great comedienne, but she had her own style. You didn't have to push her.


IMOGENE COCA, COMEDIENNE: Don't are worry about me too. The most magnificent man I...


CAESAR: Once you get the words out of the way, then you can play, then you can look, then you can feel, then you can see -- ah, maybe we're doing -- and she did the same thing. Imogene, she'd get the words out of the way and then she'd go for this and she'd go for that. And I would...

KING: A great sketch comic.

CAESAR: Oh, and a wonderful person. Wonderful. And work, oh, boy.

KING: Liked to work?

CAESAR: Oh, loved it. She loved working. She loved to play. She loved the stage. She was in love with the theater.

KING: How about Nanette Fabray?

CAESAR: The same. The same thing. Nanette Fabray.

KING: Her eyes, the funny movement of her eyes.

CAESAR: Yes, and she like -- you know, it was -- I mean, to get two women like that, you know, it's like, you know, because I was thinking, I've got to start all over again with somebody new and I got to this - and when she came in, it was like we never -- we were working for 50 years together.




CAESAR: She was wonderful. I mean, she was a great comedienne. And when she did something -- and she'd copy a little bit. I'd say fine, that's OK. Take it for yourself.

KING: Did you ever break up yourself on the show?


KING: You never did, did you?


KING: That's right. I can't think of one instance. Others would.

CAESAR: Well, yes, but I wouldn't allow it. I mean, it wasn't something...

KING: Oh, you were that strict?

CAESAR: Yes, I would say -- No, don't break up. If it doesn't get a laugh, it doesn't get a laugh. What are you going to do? Not everything get a laugh. There we some shows...

KING: How about something gets such a laugh that you do crack up?

CAESAR: Well, no, you don't. It gets a laugh, fine. You stand with it and you go ...

KING: But laughter is infectious. Don't you want to laugh?

CAESAR: Yes, but you don't allow it because...

KING: Boy, you were that disciplined?

CAESAR: Yes, you have to be. I mean, to do an hour and a half live on television, not 20 weeks a year, 39 -- 39 weeks, of an hour and a half, live, every week.

KING: A lot of discipline.

When we come back Sid Caesar, we did something on radio years ago that was totally ad-libbed. I don't know if it's going to work now, but we're going to try it when we come back. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Monte, I used to dream of a knight in shining armor who would -- since I found you, I don't dream that anymore.

CAESAR: Kind of rough tonight, ain't it?




CAESAR: You want her to stay here?


CAESAR: OK with me. But I'm packin' -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm goin'. I'm gonna pack my bag and get out of here. So long.

Here's my bag. I'm all packed. I'll see you around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to breakup your lovely home! If anyone's leavin', I'm leavin'.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, if anybody's leavin' I'm leavin'.

CAESAR: No, Thelma, if anybody's leavin', I'm leavin'.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If anybody's leavin' I'm leavin'!




KING: I felt so proud of this bit with Sid Caesar, because later he did it on "Saturday Night Live" when he hosted "Saturday Night Live"


KING: But we were doing late night radio, I was on all night long, coast to coast, and Sid was the guest, there three hours. At some point, I said let's do something ad lib off the top. So I said we have with us the eminent professor of psychology, Dr. Caesar who has a theory that the key to living is to live in the now, right?

CAESAR: You know how precious the now is? Do you know how important a now is?

KING: A now?

CAESAR: A now. A now goes by with the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second.

KING: So it's gone?

CAESAR: Einstein, Einstein said, one person's now is another person's then.

KING: That's right.

CAESAR: Your now is my was.

KING: So what you're saying is now, you got to live in the now.

CAESAR: Right, because it's going to become a was.

KING: Because it's already a was.

CAESAR: As soon as you say it's a was. But the coming is the gonna be. Now, was, gonna be.

KING: OK, so if you can -- how do you live in the gonna be?

CAESAR: You can't live in the gonna be, because the now is coming right up.

KING: So wait a minute. I'm trying to understand this. If I can live this philosophy, I'll be a happy person, right? To live in the now.

CAESAR: You'll be dancing on the flowers.

KING: OK, you make it impossible.


KING: Because the now is gone.

CAESAR: The now is gone.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I want to live in the gonna be.

CAESAR: As you say the now, the gonna be is coming up, the was is gone already.

KING: So you gotta do this all at once.

CAESAR: You're doing it all at once because when you say hello, you gotta say there. Hello there.

KING: Oh, I see. You got to continue the gonna be.

CAESAR: The gonna be is what comes after the now.

KING: And the amazing thing...

CAESAR: Comes right before the now.

KING: The amazing thing, Doctor, is once it's a was, you never get it back in eternity.

CAESAR: But you see that a lot of people get stuck in the was. They get stuck in the was.

KING: Stuck in the was.

CAESAR: They stuck in the was, because if you have a bad now, you're gonna have a bad was.

KING: That's a good way to look at it.

CAESAR: If you have a bad now, you're going to have a bad was. But the gonna be coming up can a new now.

KING: A new now.

CAESAR: A new now comes up right away. As soon as you finish the was, the now -- the new now comes up. The new gonna be comes up and hits the now. And that's what keeps you going.

KING: You make it so clear.


KING: So if you cut yourself that's a now.

CAESAR: That's a now. The blood is gushing.

KING: That's a was. The blood is now gushing.

CAESAR: The gonna be is the Band-Aid. KING: I see. So the secret is get the cut...

CAESAR: Always keep a Band-Aid on you.

KING: Keep a Band-Aid close to at all times. Don't you live this theory sort of twirling down the street, I mean if you're constantly living in the now?

CAESAR: But you know one time when I was in Paris, I had just finished a great meal and was walking down the Champs Elysees and lit up a wonderful cigar, and I'm like this. And all of the sudden, I must have walked maybe 80 feet, right? And all of a sudden, I'm like this. And I found out that being mad at yourself is a habit. You fall into it, because that's what you do.

KING: You were mad at yourself?


KING: For what?

CAESAR: For years. For different things that I did.

KING: So in other words, when you drank too much, you'd be mad at yourself?

CAESAR: Oh, sure.

KING: Did you get mad at yourself over performances?


KING: You were that critical of yourself?

CAESAR: Oh, yes, because I'd say why did you do that? Well, I had took a chance. But you can't take a chance. You got the best writers in the world working for you. And they're all -- they never went home. You know, when the show started, usually the writers go home. These guys stayed there and rewrote while I'm doing the show. When I was getting into another costume, they'd come back and say, Sid, over here, put this in over here.

KING: When the show went off why did it go off?

CAESAR: It went off because NBC said, look what we got. We got jammed up in here. We got Max Liebman, we got Imogene Coca, we got Sid Caesar. You know...

KING: Max Liebman was the famous...

CAESAR: Max Liebman was the producer and a genius, because he's the one who had the taste and put classical music on. He put the soloists on. It gave it...

KING: Class? CAESAR: ... class. But they forgot -- they said we got three shows here. Why aren't we putting it all in one? They forgot we were doing an hour and a half, that's three shows.

KING: They wanted Imogene to have a show and you to have a show and Max to have a different show.


CAESAR: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. This was it. Imogene, this was our last show on the show of shows and it's been a wonderful five years and I just want to say I love you, baby.


CAESAR: And it worked out, that's when I worked with Nan (ph). And...

KING: Were you unhappy?

CAESAR: Yes I was very unhappy.

KING: Was it hard to go on?

CAESAR: Until I got Nan, I was, you know, looking all over the place. Once I found Nan, then I had a place, because my humor comes out of everyday life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, look, the coat cost $725. Now, the coat's going to last me at least ten years. So over a period of ten years, that's just 20 cents a day.

CAESAR: All right, here's 20 cents. Catch me every morning for the next ten years, you get the coat.


CAESAR: See they had to go through -- I once did a sketch about my wife smashing up the car. And it was one of the funniest sketches we did, because people knew what we were talking about. I came home and I say, you know, I'm not very hungry. Let's take the car to go out. No, no, no, no, no.



CAESAR: What's the matter with you? I don't understand you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, darling, I didn't tell you, but I took the car over to Bill's garage for some minor repairs.

CAESAR: I just took it in for a thousand mile checkup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess they didn't check it up very good.

CAESAR: What's the matter? The carburetor a little out of tune or something?


CAESAR: Are the brakes slipping?


CAESAR: You drove the car through the liquor store window? (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim Grady was quite nice about it. He wasn't nearly as mad as Doc Fletcher.

CAESAR: Who's Doc Fletcher?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doc Fletcher is the man who own's the drug store right across the street from the liquor store.

CAESAR: You smashed up a drug store too?!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: well I had to backup to get out of the liquor store!


KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Sid Caesar. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Darling, would you mind taking the hors d'oeuvres into the other room, please.


CAESAR: Excuse me. There we are. Just a second.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the big tray, Bob.

CAESAR: Oh, that's the big tray, I see, I see.






CAESAR: That's some gong, eh?


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Sid Caesar. Remember all of this, the Sid Caesar collection, Sid Caesar fan favorites, "Hail Sid Caesar" -- I love that -- all available DVD, digitally restored, and you can obtain it by dot -- clicking into

Do you watch a lot of comedy now? Do you watch sitcoms?

CAESAR: The one I like now is Raymond because it's about people. And it's about -- you know, I think Doris Roberts does a wonderful job.

KING: Family is great.

CAESAR: Yes, family is -- if you're doing something that people understand, they know what you've gone through, they can feel it.

KING: You never used blue material, right?

CAESAR: No, I can't do it. If I'm in front of an audience, I can't say anything off color. I just can't. I can't do it.

KING: Even when you do a friar's roast, you do the languages, but you don't do curse words?

CAESAR: No. I can't do it. I mean, to me, what they do today -- you know, what happened to "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen." It's hi, how's everybody doing? OK. Bing, bang, boom, boom. And the language that is used is sometimes -- I mean, I can't take it. I turn it off. I cringe. I cringe when I hear it, and I -- I hear it sometimes in just plain conversation with people, you know? They say, this so and so and this so and so. I mean, you don't have to -- I mean, if you're going to use that kind of language what do you say when you're mad? If you get mad you got nothing to say. You said it all.

KING: You've got a point.


KING: So when you -- you don't work anymore. You have these releases come out you go to your friar's club, pleasant life, your wife is OK?

CAESAR: Yes. She's my Rock of Gibraltar.

KING: You love her?

CAESAR: Love her? That's putting it mildly.

KING: How many years have you been together?

CAESAR: Fifty-nine years.

KING: Wow. What's the secret? How did it work? CAESAR: You got to make friends with yourself and then you got to make friends with your wife. Make friends. All right. It's like, she says, why did you -- OK, you win. No battles. No nothing.

KING: You don't fight?

CAESAR: NO fight. That's the biggest waste of time in the world to fight with your wife. Why? For what reason?

KING: What do you do when you have a disagreement?

CAESAR: You have a disagreement. You say, I think it's this way. All right. We'll find out which way it's going to work. You don't say and I'm not going to say. So leave it alone. Don't push it. Don't -- you know, it's -- really, what it is is dominance, who is going to be dominant? Especially when you're married you know. You know, it's, well, don't you want to eat then? Well, maybe I'll eat it later. Instead of saying no. Then that starts it, right? No. Bang. No sleep for three night and the this or that.

KING: Conflict.

CAESAR: Yes, but life is full of conflict. But you don't pay that much attention to it. If it's something that's very important, you sit down and talk to her. I mean, you talk to her like a regular person you know. Sweetheart, I'm sorry that I did this and I realize that it's part my fault and it's part your fault also. So we both have to work out which way you want to handle this. And you got to talk to your wife. You got to sit down and talk.

KING: Do you miss working?

CAESAR: Not really. No. Because now, I don't -- I can read books. I can think about -- I love to read. I love -- my two hobbies are physics and history.

KING: Physics?

CAESAR: Yes. Oh, I'm reading a thing on Kip Thorn, who has taken relativity, which is now thought of as a relic, general relativity, by Einstein, that's thought of -- that's an old relic. But he took something that -- one of the predictions that Einstein made of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves travel from universe to universe and if we could hook up with those waves, we could see things -- you can see the universe. You can see stars being born. You can see stars dying. You can see -- I mean, it's incredible. This is another piece of work.

KING: You're incredible.

CAESAR: Thank you. Thank you very much. You're a wonderful, wonderful guy.

KING: The great Sid Caesar. All of this that you've been seeing tonight, all these clips come from various collections. They're all available at He's been one of the true legends in American television history and we are all blessed for having had him in our midst. May he have continued good health and good life.

I'm Larry King with Sid Caesar. "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN" is next.

Good night.

Anda now!


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