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Al Kelly

Al Kelly

Russian American vaudeville comedian
Al Kelly
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Russian American vaudeville comedian
Was Comedian
From Russia United States of America
Type Humor
Gender male
Birth 18 December 1896, Kreva, Vilnius Voivodeship, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Belarus
Death 7 September 1966 (aged 69 years)
Star sign SagittariusSagittarius
The details

Biography

Al Kelly was the stage name of Abraham Kalish (18 December 1896, Kreva, Russia – 7 September 1966, New York City), a U.S. vaudeville comedian. Kelly was known as a double-talk artist, and went on to stooge for other comedians such as Willie Howard and Ernie Kovacs. Near the end of his life, he made occasional appearances on The Soupy Sales Show when it was based in New York.

Biography

Kelly started in an act called Nine Crazy Kids, then started performing comic monologues. Early in his career, he performed largely in the Borscht Belt. When he was performing this stand-up comedy in the 1930s, he fluffed a joke so that it came out as nonsense: this got a good laugh so he made such double-talk the focus of his act and became especially known for this.

On television , Kelly was featured on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Eddie Fisher Show, The Jack Paar Program, Candid Camera, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson and the game show Back That Fact (1953). He was also an actor with supporting roles, such as in the film Singing in the Dark (1956) and in the TV series Mack & Myer for Hire (1963).

Kelly died at age 69 in the early hours of 7 September 1966 of a heart attack while sitting in the audience in the dining room at one of his favorite venues, The Friars' Club, during a roast. On 8 September 1966, a crowded memorial service was conducted at Riverside Memorial Chapel (Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street), New York City.

Legacy

  • Al Kelly was referenced by Ben Katchor in a Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer strip as "Noel Kapish, the famous double-talk artist of the 1950s and 1960s" (a play on both "Kalish" and "capeesh?").
  • Al Kelly was featured by Drew Friedman in his book Old Jewish Comedians (2006), "a collection of portraits of famous and forgotten Jewish comics of film and TV in their old age".
  • Al Kelly was described by Marx Brothers screenwriter Irving Brecher in 2006: "Al did double talk. That was his style. He spoke gibberish in vaudeville sketches [...] most comedians couldn't do it like Al Kelly could. He was unique."
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 14 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
http://www.worldcat.org/identities/lccn-no94-38385
http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/books_shmegegis_of_old_shmegegis_of_gold_20061215
https://www.nytimes.com/1966/09/07/archives/al-kelly-is-dead-famed-comedian-doubletalk-expert-was-in-show.html
https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1523679
https://books.google.com/books?id=KTGbGQAACAAJ
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0446165/
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