Comedian Jackie Mason Dies at 93
Jackie Mason, the preeminent borscht belt comedian who performed on Broadway, died on Saturday in Manhattan at the age of 93. He had been hospitalized for more than two weeks. Mason, who was born in Wisconsin to immigrant parents from Belarus and whose name was Jacob Yacov Maza, was an ordained Orthodox rabbi, as was his father and three more generations back of the family’s male line. He served as a congregational rabbi until his father’s death in 1959, when he felt free to pursue a career as a comedian, which he began in the Catskills.
Mason appeared frequently on The Ed Sullivan Show,” and on other top television variety shows. He was banned for two years from the Sullivan show after appearing to make an obscene gesture during a performance. He frequently appeared on talk shows and made numerous cameo appearances on television sitcoms. His show, “The World According to Me!,” opened on Broadway in December 1986 and ran for two years.
While campaigning for Rudolph Guliani for New York mayor in 1989, he used a racial slur to describe Black challenger Davd Dinkens, and was forced to apologize. He later used the same slur to describe President Barack Obama.
Mason is survived by his wife, producer Jyll Rosenfeld, and a daughter, comedian Sheba Mason.