Bob Hope: Last of the "Elder Statesmen" of Comedy?

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Posted ByDML on July 29, 2003 at 01:37:21:

Comments from Mark Evanier's, a HIGHLY recommended entertainment site (also, try Mark's for even more of the same), on the gap left by Hope's passing:

"One other thought, perhaps a bit morbid: We seem to be suffering from a paucity of Elder Statesmen Comedians. It wasn't that long ago, we had Hope and Berle and Burns and Lucy and a couple of other folks in their eighties and nineties, all very visible and around to be interviewed. Now, the three biggies who come to mind are Jerry Lewis (age 77), Johnny Carson (age 78) and Sid Caesar (age 81).

Of those three, only Jer is really active and he doesn't seem to wear the mantle well. Carson's a hermit. Over on the David Letterman fan sites, there seems to be the recurring dream that Johnny will appear with Dave or even guest-host for him. But last year, one of Carson's closest associates told me that he couldn't imagine anything so important that it would get Johnny in front of a camera again. ('Maybe if it would cure cancer,' the guy said. Then he added, 'But maybe not even then.') Sid Caesar is in poor health and the last few times I've seen him speak, he fell back on the double-talk German and French, rather than really talk.

Are there any great, legendary comedians in their nineties? Or even in their mid-to-late eighties? I can't think of one. There's probably a reason for this gap but I haven't taken the time to puzzle out what it might be. Maybe something about the timing by which radio comedy shows came to prominence and then evolved into television.

Anyway, it's just a thought. And like I said, maybe a bit morbid. But I'd sure hate to see the day when the Great Elder Statesman of Comedy is Gallagher."

Comments, anyone?

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