15 Minutes Magazine - The Magazine of Society and Celebrity

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No. 115 / 2017

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Tim Boxer

Boxer Shorts

Cyndi LauperHOLY DEBUT Iconic singer Cyndi Lauper boarded an EL AL plane in January for her first ever trip to Israel. She finished her 30th anniversary international concert tour at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. During her weeklong visit she spent time in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The ‘80s legend is known for musical hits such as Girls Just Want to Have Fun, All Through the Night, and True Colors. Etai Eliaz, general manager of the Dan Tel Aviv, welcomed Lauper to the beachfront hotel’s Royal Suite. Photo by Shahar Azran

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Pamela AndersonSECOND TIME AROUND The former Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson, 46, who retied the knot with film producer Rick Solomon, spent her honeymoon at the King David in Jerusalem. The couple also spent a moment with hotel manager Dror Danino. Pamela first married Solomon in 2007, and divorced two months later. She recycled her ex in a secret walk down the aisle on Jan. 11, 2014. She wrote in the King David Hotel's famous guestbook: "A meaningful, lovely honeymoon. We'll be back." What! She’s already thinking of a third round?

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Francois Hollande, president of France, is welcomed to the Dan Tel Aviv by general manager Etai EliazHIGH TECH Francois Hollande, president of France, is welcomed to the Dan Tel Aviv by general manager Etai Eliaz. The French president participated in a France Innovation Day held by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute at the hotel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres mingled with representatives from 80 French companies from new media, energy and life sciences. Also present were Dan Hotels chairman Mickey Federmann, high-tech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, Check Point president Amnon Bar-Lev, and Intel vice president David Perlmutter.

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Alan King, right, honors Sid Caesar on his Jewish humor in 2000
Alan King, right, honors Sid Caesar on his Jewish humor in 2000
In Praise Of Caesar

ID CAESAR, the pioneer of television sketch comedy who died on Feb. 12 at home in Beverly Hills, grew up in a Yiddish speaking home in Yonkers, in Westchester County, N.Y. He lived above the family diner, the St. Clair Buffet, that catered to the European immigrant workers from a nearby hat factory. His Russian-born mother Ida held forth at the cash register; his three older brothers also helped out.

Sid evolved his hilarious double talk routine by mimicking the accents of the German, Italian, Greek and Polish customers. He’d pick up exotic phrases from these ethnic people who delighted in teasing him. Everyone had a hearty laugh with the five-year-old kid. Little Caesar suddenly found himself center stage.

When Sid was nine his Polish-born father Max said, "Sidney, you’re going to be different. I want you to play the saxophone."

"Why, pop?"

"Because somebody left one here."

While waiting the required six months to join the musicians union Local 802 in Manhattan so he could work in bands, Caesar took a job as doorman at the Capitol Theatre. The previous guy quit and Caesar was the only one who fit his coat.

Sid the saxophonist played in several bands in Manhattan and in the Catskills until World War II interrupted his budding career. He enlisted and got lucky, appearing in the Coast Guard hit revue, Tars and Spars, which toured the country and became a movie in 1946.

After the spectacular success in the 1950s with Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour, both on NBC, the prince of television’s Golden Age plunged into the abyss of a 20-year blackout. The Caesar salad days came crashing down in a total emotional and physical collapse. He endured a life-threatening dependency on drink and drugs. "I didn’t unwind," he said. "I unraveled."

Caesar recounted his early years when I visited him at his fabulous home in the Trousdale Estates of Beverly Hills for my first book, The Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, in the late ‘80s.

He told me how he went to cheder (Hebrew school) for eight years after school—and learned nothing. He said he studied his haftorah for his bar mitzvah phonetically. "I don’t know what I was talking about. Nobody ever explained it."

He recalled how "the fellow sat in the front with a stick and a schmaltz sandwich with a piece of herring, and that was it. ‘You’ll read next. You’ll be next. You’ll go.’ That was going to cheder. That was teaching. So you grow up and say enough. "

If that turned him off to a large degree, he still absorbed something in his comprehension of life and the universe. "I believe there are some very wise things in the Torah—they argue back and forth. I have nothing against religion. I believe there is something, an energy, a force."

Caesar had two daughters, Michele and Karen, and a son Richard. He made sure his son the doctor had a bar mitzvah. "As for religion, it’s up to him," Caesar said.

Last time I saw Sid Caesar, he was being honored at the Third Annual Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor, sponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, in 2000 at the Pierre Hotel in New York.

Larry Gelbart, one of the writers on Caesar’s Hour, admitted he’s also not much of a Jew "except those times I got beat up for being one."

Mel Brooks, a writer on Your Show of Shows who presented the award to Sid, cracked, "I’m not here to bury Caesar, I’m here to praise him."

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Sid Bernstein meets the Backwards, a Beatles parody group, in 2008 at the 92nd St. Y
Sid Bernstein meets the Backwards, a Beatles parody group, in 2008 at the 92nd St. Y
Never Again The Beatles

, the producer and promoter who started the British invasion to America with the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, told me how he was introduced to the world of music.

He was born in New York City to Israel and Ida, who came from a shtetl near Kiev, Ukraine. "I was raised in Harlem by my grandmother. She used to take me to see Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt at a nearby synagogue." A child prodigy, Rosenblatt was acclaimed as the Jewish Caruso.

Then Sid set his sights on rock ‘n’ roll. He read in the British papers about the rise of the Beatles. He made a deal with their manager, Brian Epstein, to bring the group to Carnegie Hall on Feb. 12, 1964.

Before the group landed on these shores, Ed Sullivan asked Sid what he thought of them. He assured the TV host that they were going to be the biggest attraction in the world. Three days before the Carnegie Hall concert, Sullivan rushed to introduce the Beatles to America on his CBS variety show.

Following his Beatles triumph, Sid set out to promote other rock groups. For three years he managed the Rascals, who hailed from New Jersey and New York. Their Groovin’ became the biggest sound in the country. He also promoted such established stars as Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Ray Charles, Dion, Bobby Darin and Chubby Checkers.

After Sid returned from scouting new talent in Britain in 1988, he told me he had Shabbos dinner with Brian Epstein’s mother in Liverpool. Brian, the mastermind behind the Beatles’ success, had died in 1967 of an accidental drug overdose.

"His mother keeps kosher and is very Orthodox," Sid said. "Her other son, Clive, is in real estate. He’s also Orthodox. In fact his son and two daughters attend a cheder [Jewish religious school]."

Sid never stopped looking for talent. In 2008 he attended a concert of Beatles music at New York’s 92nd Street Y where he met with an enthusiastic young group calling itself the Backwards, a parody of the Beatles.

"I wanted another Beatles," he said. "There will never be another Beatles."

Sid Bernstein died of natural causes on Aug. 21 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He was 95.


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