Jackie Mason Dies: Rabbi Who Later Rose To Fame As A Comedian, Actor & Author Was 93

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Jackie Mason, the rabbi who later cultivated careers as a comedian, actor and author, died in a Manhattan hospital on Saturday, according to the New York Times. He was 93.

Mason’s longtime friend, attorney Raoul Felder, confirmed his passing to the Times. A cause of death was not disclosed.

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Mason was born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on June 9, 1931. While the son of Belarusian immigrants would ultimately earn fame and accolades for his work on stage, he initially looked to pursue the path of a rabbi, at the behest of his family. He was ordained after completing his rabbinical studies at Yeshiva University, working as a rabbi in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He decided to pursue a career as a writer and performer following the death of his father in 1959.

Mason began his career in comedy as a regular performer in the Catskills. He later became a fixture on such popular variety shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, releasing comedy albums including I Am the Greatest Comedian in the World, Only Nobody Knows It Yet! and I Want to Leave You With the Words of a Great Comedian.

Mason was also well known his work on Broadway. He wrote and starred in a number of plays and one-man shows including The World According to Me, which earned him a Special Tony Award, as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award, an ACE Award, an Emmy and a Grammy nomination.

Mason featured on the film side in titles such as The Stoolie (1972), Steve Martin’s The Jerk (1979) and Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I, also appearing in TV series including his own 1992 talk show, The Jackie Mason Show, 30 Rock and The Simpsons. On Fox’s long-running animated series, he voiced Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, the father of Krusty the Clown. The role brought him his second Emmy in 1992, for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.

Over the course of his career, Mason also penned a number of books including 1999 autobiography Jackie, Oy!, on which he collaborated with Ken Gross.

Mason is survived by his wife Jyll Rosenfeld, as well as his daughter, the comedian Sheba Mason. Plans for a memorial have not yet been revealed.

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