Dick Shawn

Active - 1956 - 1997  |   Born - Dec 1, 1923   |   Died - Apr 17, 1987   |   Genres - Comedy

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Like Sheckey Greene and Guy Marks, Dick Shawn was a nightclub comedian whose talents were highly prized by the members of his profession, but who took quite some time building up a fan following with "civilian" audiences. Beginning his film career with a peripheral role in 1956's The Opposite Sex, Shawn signed a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1960. He starred in an Arabian Nights satire, The Wizard of Baghdad (1960), which may have been too "inside" for fans of that genre. After co-starring with Ernie Kovacs in Wake Me When It's Over (1961), Shawn was generally seen in secondary, plot-motivating comic roles in such films as It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) and What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (1966). He was hysterically funny in Mel Brooks' The Producers (1967), playing an erratic hippie actor named L.S.D. who was cast in the musical play "Springtime for Hitler" as a singing Fuehrer. Outside of The Producers, Shawn was seen to best advantage in his bizarre, stream-of-consciousness nightclub routines. So quirky and unpredictable were his live performances that, when Dick Shawn died of a heart attack while performing before a college crowd in San Diego, many members of the audience assumed his collapse was part of the act.

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