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May 04, 1990 - Image 89

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-05-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

works the human condition
as if it were a broken-down
machine. The writer's shows
show off a talent for tripping
up man's ego in midstream.
Gelbart quietly admits
he's always been a showoff.
"I wasn't a very good stu-
dent in school," he says. "I
got around it by being
funny."
While his school hallway
performances may have
been the hallmark of his
academic work, they didn't
set the stage for an acting
career.
"I don't think I ever want-
ed to be an actor," Gelbart
says. "I liked the funny peo-
ple," he says. "I liked the
W.C. Fields of the world."
It was a teenager's field of
dreams, playing in the big
leagues of comedy at 16 —
and having the field to
himself. "It all seemed very
lucky and very natural,"
Gelbart says of his job with
Danny Thomas, which was
followed quickly by a
writing stint on the promi-
nent "Duffy's Tavern," an-
other popular radio show
hosted by Ed Gardner.
A host of offers followed,
with Gelbart signing on with
Bob Hope, Red Buttons, Art
Carney, Danny Kaye and
Sid Caesar. The streets were
paved with golden quips.
And nowhere was the
highway to writer's heaven
filled with fewer stop signs
than on television's
"Caesar's Hour."
Everything went, recalls
Gelbart. Nothing was
sacred. "It was a destruction
derby, with every writer
looking for ideas."
He had some fun friends
along for the search. Gelbart
was a member of a writing
stable that included such
script-in-hand steeds as Neil
Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl
Reiner and, of course,
Caesar. "That was as much
fun as it was work," Gelbart
says. "It was a tremendous
free-wheeling time."
But the wheels of time
sometimes shift dramati-
cally — especially in comedy.
When Caesar put together
some comic highlights for a
show on Broadway late last
year, it proved less than a
laughing matter. The show
did not fare all that well.
Gelbart wishes Caesar
well, but was not surprised
his old friend's show did as it

did.

"Without being disrespect-
ful," Gelbart says, "all that
belongs to another time.
Time does things to mate-
rial. It's like turning the
Sistine Chapel into a
postage stamp." ❑

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

89

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