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Irving Benson

  • Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
  • Birthday: January 31
Date of passing: 
May 19, 2016

Irving Benson was a comedian who got his start in vaudeville and burlesque. He rose to fame as Sidney Spritzer, a character who would heckle Milton Berle from the balcony on TV variety shows. The duo got together again for a short tour in the early 2000s when Berle was in his nineties.

Benson was also the subject of the 2010 documentary The Last First Comic, which explored the history of American comedy with the last living burlesque comedian, a then-97-year-old Benson.

He appeared on The Milton Berle Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Texaco Star Theatre, Here’s Lucy and Happy Days, on which he played a member of a burlesque troupe. He also had a small role in the 1970 comedy war film Which Way to the Front?, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis.

Irving Benson was a comedian who got his start in vaudeville and burlesque. He rose to fame as Sidney Spritzer, a character who would heckle Milton Berle from the balcony on TV variety shows. The duo got together again for a short tour in the early 2000s when Berle was in his nineties.

Benson was also the subject of the 2010 documentary The Last First Comic, which explored the history of American comedy with the last living burlesque comedian, a then-97-year-old Benson.

He appeared on The Milton Berle Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Texaco Star Theatre, Here’s Lucy and Happy Days, on which he played a member of a burlesque troupe. He also had a small role in the 1970 comedy war film Which Way to the Front?, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis.

Benson got his start in entertainment at a young age, singing and dancing in contests as a child. He entertained the troops during World War II and began his comedic partnership with Jack Mann in 1946. The duo (with Mann playing the straight man) performed together as “Benson and Mann” for more than a decade.

Benson died May 19, 2016, in Port Jefferson, New York. He was 102.

 

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