Lenny Bruce

Active - 1954 - 1966  |   Born - in Mineola, NY  |   Genres - Comedy, History [nf]

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The notoriously raunchy comedy of Lenny Bruce pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment and got him into much legal trouble during the early '60s, but it also changed the face of American comedy monologues and opened the door to a grittier, more political form of standup humor. He was born Leonard Alfred Schneider, October 13, 1925, the son of performer Sally Marrs. When he first started out, he billed himself as Lenny Marrs and then Marselle before settling on the penname Bruce. His fame came from fearless monologues which utilized vulgar language and centered on such socially verboten topics as sexuality, religion, and racism. No topic was too sacred for Bruce and he was frequently harassed by authorities. But while initially his boundary-pushing performances gained him fame, they also led to his downfall; Bruce became unbookable due to the threat of nightclubs losing their licenses should he be allowed to perform. This banishment from performing also occurred abroad. His film credits include a major role in Dance Hall Racket (1954) and a screenplay for Rocket Man (1958). Bruce died of a morphine overdose on August 3, 1966, in his Hollywood residence. In 1974, Dustin Hoffman played Bruce in Bob Fosse's powerful biopic Lenny.

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