Sid Caesar, one of television's early stars, died Wednesday. He was 91. A family friend confirmed the news to the Associated Press.
Caesar gained prominence on NBC's Your Show of Shows, a 90-minute live variety show that aired on NBC from 1950 to 1954, and on which he appeared with costars Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris. Writers for the show included Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart and Mel Tolkin. A successor, Caesar's Hour aired from 1954 to 1957.
"Most comics you wrote for, I wrote for, you prayed that they met your material," Brooks said when talking about Caesar in an appearance on Conan in 2012. "Sid always raised it."
Caesar's brand of sketch and variety helped redefine what television comedy could be. But battles with drugs and alcohol limited his time on the public stage in the 60s and 70s. He re-emerged in the 80s—collaborating with former partners such as Brooks and Coca, making regular television appearances, working nightclubs, and performing on Broadway. In 1983, he hosted Saturday Night Live, whose format was in some ways pioneered by Caesar's work on Your Show of Shows.
Caesar was born in 1922 to Jewish immigrants in Yonkers, N.Y. His wife, Florence died in 2010. He is survived by his son Richard and his daughters Michele and Karen.