Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Sid Caesar: An Appreciation

91 is a long time to live. So,Sid Caesar did well as far as longevity goes.

His prime as an comedian was from 1950 to 1957.  He starred in Your Show of Shows for four years followed by Caesar’s Hour.

The  writers who worked on those shows went on to large fame after their time with Sid.

Larry Gelbart who worked on the second show wrote M*A*S*H* the tv series, Tootsie, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, just to name a few.

Neil Simon wrote several plays: The Odd Couple, Barefoot In The Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs and many more.

Mel Brooks…..well, everyone knows what Mel has done.

Aaron Ruben produced The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., and Sanford and Son.

I should also mention Lucille Kallen. She was a pioneer.  Writers rooms were and to some extent still are male-dominated. Lucille held her own in that fast company for the whole 139 episode run of Your Show Of Shows. If you watch My Favorite Year, the character played brilliantly by Anne DeSalvo, is based on Lucille Kallen.

Here are a couple of clips from a special where the writers reunite with Sid for a two-hour special.

The first one sums up Sid’s responsibilities as the star of the show. What I would like you to notice is how much laughter there is in the two small clips.

Sid had great writers.  He also had an outstanding cast:  Imogene Coca, Howard Morris, and Carl Reiner.

With that nucleus, they made television history.

Your Show Of Shows was performed live.  Every episode was  90 minutes long and they did 39 shows each year.

As a contrast, Saturday Night Live does 22 shows a year.

AND, Sid’s shows never used cue cards.

Unfortunately, after those shows went off, Sid never found a comparable spot for his talents. He would show up in this or that show but nothing came close to what he had in those seven glorious years.

As we see the remembrances from people who worked in and had their own success on television, the overwhelming consensus is that Sid Caesar was the best comedian television has ever had.

You will get no argument here.

Hail Caesar!




100th Post: An Exclusive Interview With Me

Thanks for the chance to do this.

My pleasure.

You don’t do many of these, do you?


Why is that?

I like to preserve some mystery, also nobody has asked me.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this blog.  Why did you decide to start one?

Well….I had been on Twitter for about a year and some of the people I spent most of my time talking to had blogs of their own. I was commenting on those and it seemed like a natural progression to try my hand at one.

It has taken you two years to come up with 100 posts.  You aren’t very prolific.

Is there a question in that?

Why don’t you write more?

First off, I am glad you call them posts and not blogs.  I hate when people get the terms mixed up. “I blogged today”  No you didn’t you wrote a post for your blog. Why don’t I write more? I don’t know if there is a good reason. I like writing.  Like most writers, I would appreciate having a larger audience.  To get that though, I would have to write more.  Or write better.  I don’t know.

I mean, I have never opened the Add New Post page and come up empty.  The things I couldn’t wait to write about I have already covered. Does that answer your question?

Yep. You could write about current events. 

I think Twitter has sort of condensed my thinking to the point that I can cover a subject in 140 characters.  That would make for a weak blog entry. I think people are busy.  A lot of folks that I follow are writers themselves. I’m not sure if all writers love reading other peoples stuff. I do, but I think I am in the minority in this regard.

You have written about your personal life……

True…..there again you can paint yourself into a corner.  I wrote a series about the first year my wife and I were together. Last March and April. A five part series called Finding Love. I was proud of that.  I have written about my parents and dealing with their deaths. I found that sort of writing very cathartic and those were well-received.

I don’t write much about the kids.  Maybe I will do more with my grandson.

How is he?

Doing well, thanks. Almost three years old. He knows enough words to give off a little attitude.

The other day I made the mistake of calling his Mom’s IPad an IPod.  He corrected me and I think gave me a little sideeye/eyeroll.

Did you watch the Beatles specials?  That music is in your age group.

Yeah. I was 7 and a half when they appeared on the Sullivan show.  I don’t remember watching it. Although I am sure we did.  We watched Ed Sullivan every Sunday night.

I was struck by how they came to be musically. The music that was the biggest influence on them and all the young British musicians wasn’t very old.  Bill Haley. Chuck Berry. Buddy Holly. The Everly Brothers. Carl Perkins.  That music was only a few years old. The British Invasion bands heard and loved those songs.  As Dave Clark said on the CNN special, they absorbed the music and showed the world how music should evolve from those wonderful roots.

The Sunday night special was a real treat. I watched it with my wife who let it be known that In My Life was just about the perfect love song.

I wonder what Paul would have said if you told him right before the show that in twelve years he would be on the biggest tour of America and in a totally different band.  Wings Over America was huge in 1976.

What does the future hold for your blog?

Hard to say.  I wrote about guns and nothing substantial happened.  Kids are still being shot at an alarming rate. It’s hard to write when the effort seems futile.  That is sort of what the gun lobby hopes for. They would like people to remain silent.

I wrote about politics and with the mid-terms coming up I might start focusing on that again.

I have some half finished books I would like to write reviews about if I ever get done reading them.

What is holding you back?

Time.  I need uninterrupted stretches of time to read and write. Most of these take anywhere from one to two hours of writing time.

And with books, I find my ability to retain what I am reading isn’t what it used to be.  So I can’t just pick up where I left off. I have to go back and remind myself of where I am in the story.

Thanks for your time. I hope this wasn’t too painful.

I couldn’t have asked better questions myself.

And to all of you who have visited me over these last 100 posts, Thanks.





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