Jul 25, 2021
By Jeremy Logan
A titan has fallen.
Jackie Mason, the rabbi-turned-comedian whose brash brand of stand-up comedy led him to Catskills nightclubs, Broadway stages and West Coast talk shows, has died. He was 93.
According to celebrity lawyer Raoul Felder, Mason died Saturday at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after being hospitalized for over two weeks.
Mason was known for his razor-sharp wit and piercing social commentary, often about being Jewish, men and women and his own inadequacies. His standard style was amused outrage.
The son of a rabbi, Mason was born Jacob Maza. His three brothers became rabbis, as did Mason, who at one time had congregations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Mason gave up the life of a rabbi to pursue a career in comedy.
Mason got his start in show business as a social director at a resort in the Catskills. He was the guy who got everybody up to play Simon Says, quiz games or shuffleboard. He told jokes, too. After one season, he was playing clubs throughout the Catskills.
In 1961, the feisty comic got his big break, an appearance on Steve Allen’s weekly television variety show. His success brought him to “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other programs.
Mason’s act brought him to Broadway, where he put on several one-man shows, including “Freshly Squeezed” in 2005, “Love Thy Neighbor” in 1996 and “The World According to Me” in 1988, for which he received a Tony Award.
Felder, his longtime friend, told the Associated Press that Mason had a Talmudic outlook on life: “That whatever you would say to him, he would start an argument with you.”
Mason is survived by his wife, producer Jyll Rosenfeld, and a daughter, Sheba.