Shelley Berman, Stand-Up Comic and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actor, Dies at 92


Berman, a Chicago native, began his career in show business in the 1940s, after being discharged from the navy, Variety reports. After training as an actor, he joined an improvisational company in Chicago, Compass Players, the beginning of the famed Second City.

And while Berman didn't quite fit a specific category of comedy, he would go on to become one of the most successful stand-up comics in the 1950s and '60s, paving the way for others like Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld.

Throughout his career, Berman earned a number of impressive firsts ― his 1959 live recording "Inside Shelley Berman" was the first comedy album to be certified gold and the first non-musical album to win a Grammy.

Berman is credited with helping create the "modern" stand-up comedy routine, as his performances in the 1960s and 70s were far more cerebral and personal than the slapstick gags of comics before him, per the New York Times.

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Comedian Shelley Berman, who was famous as a "sit-down" comedian and later as Larry David's dad on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", died on Friday.

Berman received an Emmy Award nomination in 2008 for playing Nat David on Curb. Berman had recurring roles on L.A. Law and Boston Legal, as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was not, in the strict sense of the word, a comedian. Berman taught at USC for more than 20 years.

He once said of his style: 'I was essentially a monologuist. In the introduction to his 2013 book of poetry, To Laughter With Questions, Berman writes, "I have always written". His publicist, Glenn Schwartz, announced his death and attributed it to complications around Alzheimer's disease. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Sarah, his daughter Rachel Berman, and two grandsons. I will have more to say in this group in the days ahead, but Sarah (who I just spoke to) wanted me to let all of Shelley's Facebook fans know about Shelley's passing.

Berman starred in A Family Affair on Broadway in 1962 and headlined the 1980 headlined a one-man show, Insideoutsideandallaround With Shelley Berman. Berman and his wife adopted a son, Joshua, as well, who died of a brain tumor in 1977 at the age of 12.