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Dick Shawn

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Cause of death  heart attack
Name  Dick Shawn
Other names  Richy Shawn
Role  Actor
Occupation  Actor, comedian
Grandchildren  Rachel Travolta
Years active  1956–1987

Dick Shawn httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Full Name  Richard Schulefand
Born  December 1, 1923 (age 63) (1923-12-01) Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Resting place  Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Spouse  Rita Bachner (m. 1946–1987)
Children  Wendy Shawn, Amy Schulefand, Adam Schulefand, Jennifer Schulefand
Movies  It's a Mad - Mad - Mad - Mad World, The Producers, What Did You Do in the War, The Year Without a Santa Cla, Penelope
Similar People  Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Edie Adams, George S Irving
Died  April 17, 1987 (aged 63) San Diego, California, U.S.

Richard "Dick" Shawn (December 1, 1923 – April 17, 1987) was an American actor and comedian. He played a wide variety of supporting roles and was a prolific character actor. He was well known during the 1960s for small but iconic roles in madcap comedies, usually portraying caricatures of counter culture personalities, such as the deadbeat son Sylvester in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and the hippie actor "L.S.D." in The Producers (1968).


Dick Shawn Goes Nuts on Live TV (October, 1954)

Dick Shawn in "The Producers" 1967

Early life and career

Dick Shawn Dick Shawn

Shawn was born Richard Schulefand in Buffalo, New York and raised in adjacent Lackawanna. The best remembered roles of his career are the hot-headed Sylvester Marcus, son of Mrs. Marcus (Ethel Merman), in Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and easygoing Lorenzo St. DuBois/Adolf Hitler in the musical Springtime for Hitler, the play within Mel Brooks's movie The Producers (1968). He also provided the Snow Miser's voice in The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974).

He had continued success with his stand-up comedy act that he successfully performed for over 35 years in nightclubs around the world. His award-winning one-man stage show, The Second Greatest Entertainer in the Whole Wide World, was sometimes performed with a unique opening. When the audience entered the theater, they saw a bare stage with a pile of bricks in stage center. When the play began, Shawn emerged from the pile of bricks. The startling effect of this required complete concentration and breath control because the slightest movement of the bricks could ruin the surprise appearance.

In addition to roles in more than 30 movies and seven Broadway productions, Shawn made numerous television appearances, toured often, and periodically performed a one-man show that mixed songs, sketches, and pantomime. He was a frequent speaker at the infamous Friars Club Roasts in Los Angeles and New York. At one of the X-rated roasts (a 1986 Playboy roast of Tommy Chong) that had overdosed on tasteless routines by previous speakers, Shawn walked up to the microphone, took a long pause, and "vomited" pea soup onto himself and other speakers at the dais.

His many TV appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, TV movies, sitcoms (including Three's Company on which he played John Ritter's father), dramas including St. Elsewhere and Magnum, P.I., and a music video for "Dance" by the hair metal band Ratt (1986). Among his roles in anthology TV series, he starred in an Amazing Stories episode "Miss Stardust", directed by Tobe Hooper, about a bizarre intergalactic beauty pageant, and played the Emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes in Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. He filled in for vacationing Johnny Carson as guest host on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on January 1, 1971, which saw the last cigarette commercial on American television (for Virginia Slims) aired on TV, one minute before the cigarette ads were banned.

Personal life

Shawn was married to Rita Bachner in 1946, and they had four children: Amy, Wendy (married to John Travolta's older brother Joey Travolta), Adam, and Jennifer. He had one grandchild, Rachel Travolta. He was a longtime resident of Englewood, New Jersey.


On April 17, 1987, during a performance at University of California, San Diego's Mandeville Hall—including his portrayal of a politician reciting such campaign clichés as "If elected, I will not lay down on the job"—Shawn suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed face-down on the stage. The audience initially assumed that it was part of his act; but after he had remained motionless on the stage for several minutes, a stage hand examined him and asked if a physician was present.

After CPR had been initiated, the audience was asked to leave the auditorium, but most remained, still assuming that it was all part of Shawn's act. Many began leaving—still unsure of what they had witnessed—only after paramedics arrived. A notice in the following day's San Diego Union newspaper clarified that Shawn had indeed died during the performance. Dick Shawn was 63. He is interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery, in Culver City, California.


Dick Shawn Wikipedia