"I was very, very demanding. I would never settle. Sometimes, you have to because of the time element. But if I could, I would not settle. I'd say, 'Come on, we can get better than that.' I always pushed. And that pushed (the writers). So it was a 'love-terror' arrangement. There was a lot of terror, and a lot of love."
About This Interview
Sid Caesar (1922-2014) emphasizes the challenge of doing live TV in the early days of the medium: "Doing a show live on television is a different animal altogether than doing TV today. I mean on tape, that's like relaxing. That's like going on vacation!" Caesar is a seminal figure in early TV comedy and one of the first recipients of the Emmy Award for Best Actor (in 1952). In his Archive interview, he recounts his early years as a performer, including his time writing and acting in shows for the Armed Forces. He notes how his first series, Admiral Broadway Revue, was launched, which gave way to the now classic Your Show of Shows. He speaks about the phenomenon of "live" TV and the pressures and rewards of helming an hour-and-a-half weekly variety series. Caesar speaks about NBC's decision to separate the network's Your Show of Shows commodities by having producer Max Liebman do TV "spectaculars" and giving Caesar and co-star Imogene Coca their own shows. Caesar then discusses his next successful venue, the variety series Caesar's Hour, with Nanette Fabray filling the void left by Imogene Coca. From both Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, Caesar chronicles such famous sketches as "The Professor," "The Hickenloopers" and "The Haircuts." He also humorously recounts many of the gaffes that occurred on "live" television, including the time he forgot the name of the guest star during the show's introduction, when he was dressed in the wrong costume seconds before going on, and when his make-up pencil broke during his Pagliacci take-off (leading to one of his most-famous ad-libs). He then frankly discusses his bout with alcoholism and his decision to get sober. Lastly, he give his impressions of the many talented collaborators he worked with over the years, including: writers Larry Gelbart and Mel Brooks, and performers Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris. Sid Caesar was interviewed in Beverly Hills, CA on March 14, 1997; Dan Pasternack conducted the three-hour interview.
Video: Sid Caesar guest-stars on the season four opener of The Hollywood Palace (in color) on September 17, 1966 (from the Internet Archive). Look for the sketch he does with Joyce Jameson at 32:44, which Variety said "...had the air of exaggerated truth. It had funny moments and excellent execution."
Sid Caesar is an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame inductee.