Shelley Berman, Comic And 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actor, Dead At 92

Posted September 03, 2017

Comedian Shelley Berman, who won gold records and appeared on top television shows in the 1950s and 1960s delivering wry monologues about the annoyances of everyday life, has died.

Berman began his career after serving in the Navy and joined the Chicago improv company the Compass Players, which eventually became Chicago's Second City.

Berman got his start in the '50s, where he was known as the "sit down" comic because he usually performed while seated on a stool. His 1959 record, Inside Shelley Berman, was the first comedy album to sell more than 500,000 copies (its two follow-ups also went gold) and Berman was the first stand-up comic to perform at Carnegie Hall. He would go on to appear twelve more times over four seasons.

Berman, who acted throughout his career and had a late career resurgence when he played Larry David's father on the hit HBO comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm", died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to spokesman Glenn Schwartz.

Berman, a Chicago native, received an Emmy nomination for his role as Nat. He wasn't a joke teller nor a "sick" comedian.

At his peak, Berman was asked to participate in NBC's documentary-style show "Comedian Backstage", for which he was followed around as he prepared for a 1962 nightclub act.

His other TV roles include Judge Robert Sanders on Boston Legal, as well as appearances on CSI: NY, Pushing Daisies, Hannah Montana, Entourage, Grey's Anatomy, Friends and L.A. Law. Berman recorded six more albums for Verve Records. He also taught taught humor writing at USC, and published a book of poetry.

"I had dreams of being an actor", he said in a 1960 interview.

Berman is survived by his wife of 70 years, Sarah - whom he met while studying acting at the Goodman Theatre - as well as his adopted daughter, Rachel Berman, and two grandsons.

Berman was 92 years old. He retired from performing in 2014. 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.

His son Joshua, months shy of his 13th birthday, died in the mid-1970s from brain cancer.