R.I.P. Jackie Mason, the comedian who famously feuded with Ed Sullivan
The Emmy-winning actor had a career that spanned over half a century
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Jackie Mason, Emmy and Tony-winning comedican and actor, passed away at the age of 93.
Before discovering entertainment, Mason became a rabbi, just like his own father and grandfather. At age 28, he quit the synagoge in favor of a career in comedy. By the 1960s, his career had taken off and he was making up to $10,000 (equivalent today to $83,000) weekly performing in New York nightclubs.
His career hit a hitch with a famous tiff with Ed Sullivan. In 1964, during a stand-up performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Ed Sullivan held up two fingers off-camera to indicate that Mason had two minutes to wrap up his routine. Mason began incorporating his hands into the act, which Sullivan reportedly misinterpreted as Mason making an obscene gesture. Sullivan cancelled Mason's $45,000 appearance contract, and Sullivan's influence in the entertainment industry meant that Mason was labeled as obscene and difficult to work with for decades to come.
Mason sued Sullivan for libel over the damage to his career. Two years later, Sullivan had Mason back on the show and publicly apologized to the comedian. Mason would go on to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show five more times.
Younger fans may recall Mason from his recurring role on The Simpsons as Rabbi Krustofski, which won him his third Emmy award.