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Encyclopedia > Mort Sahl
Time Magazine, August 15, 1960
Time Magazine, August 15, 1960

Morton Lyon Sahl (born May 11, 1927) is a Montreal-born actor/comedian/humorist credited with pioneering a style of stand-up comedy that paved the way for Lenny Bruce, Nichols & May, Dick Gregory, and others less famous. He also wrote some speeches for John F. Kennedy. This image is a book cover. ... This image is a book cover. ... A pocket watch, a device used to keep time There are two distinct views on the meaning of time. ... August 15 is the 227th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (228th in leap years), with 138 days remaining. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... May 11 is the 131st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (132nd in leap years). ... 1927 (MCMXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... This article needs cleanup. ... Actors in period costume sharing a joke while waiting between takes during location filming An actor is a person who acts, or plays a role, in a dramatic production. ... A comedian, or comic, is an entertainer who amuses an audience by making them laugh. ... A humorist is an author who specializes in short, humorous articles or essays. ... A stand-up or stand-up comic is someone that performs comedy in an informal way, i. ... Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s. ... Mike Nichols (born Michael Igor Peschkowsky) is an Academy Award winning movie director of films such as The Graduate and Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. He was born on November 6, 1931 in Berlin, to a Jewish Russian family. ... Elaine May (b. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other persons named John Kennedy, see John Kennedy (disambiguation). ...


Life and career

Sahl's father was a court reporter and then became an FBI Administrator.

The family moved to Los Angeles, California and when Mort was a young man he joined the ROTC. He was drafted into the US Air Force and served at an Air Force Base in Alaska. After he left the USAF, he graduated from University of Southern California in 1950 with majors in traffic engineering and city management. After almost going broke, he began to do stand up comedy at Enrico Banducci's hungry i nightclub in San Francisco where his vicious audience threw peanuts and pennies at him. The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a training program of the United States armed forces present on college campuses to recruit and educate commissioned officers. ... Seal of the Air Force. ... The University of Southern California (commonly referred to as USC, SC, Southern California, and incorrectly as Southern Cal[1]), located in the University Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, USA, was founded in 1880, making it Californias oldest private research university. ... For another meaning of the term traffic engineering, please see telecommunications traffic engineering. ... A city manager is an official appointed as the administrative manager of a city, in a council-manager form of city government. ... Richard Pryor hits the money line A stand-up comedian or stand-up comic is someone that performs in comedy clubs, usually reciting a fast paced succession of amusing stories, short jokes and one-liners, typically called a monologue. ... Enrico Banducci was the legendary North Beach San Francisco impresario who operated the hungry i nightclub and launched the careers of Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Bill Cosby, Jonathan Winters, and Barbra Streisand, as well as countless folk singers. ... The hungry i was a legendary San Francisco nightclub operated in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Enrico Banducci at 599 Jackson Street in the North Beach district. ... Nickname: The City by the Bay; Fog City Location of the City and County of San Francisco, California Coordinates: Country United States of America State California City-County San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Area    - City 122 km²  (47 sq mi)  - Land 121. ...

His humor was and remains based on current events, particularly politics, drawing many of his monologues from the day's newspaper headlines. His trademark gimmick was appearing on stage with a newspaper in hand, casually dressed in a pullover sweater. A monologue is a speech made by one person speaking his or her thoughts aloud or directly addressing a reader, audience or character. ... A gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something stand out from its contemporaries. ...

After his friend John F. Kennedy became President, Sahl began to make jokes that were critical of Kennedy's policies. Ed Sullivan refused to let him tell any JFK jokes on The Ed Sullivan Show on national television. As a result, Sahl fell out of the national spotlight for several years. Ed Sullivan Edward Vincent Sullivan (September 28, 1901 – October 13, 1974) was an American entertainment writer and television host, best known as the emcee of a popular TV variety show that was at its height of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. ... Ed Sullivan The Ed Sullivan Show was an American television variety show that ran from June 20, 1948 to June 6, 1971, and was hosted by former entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan. ...

Following the John F. Kennedy assassination in November 1963, Sahl's interest in who was behind it became so great that he became a deputized member of the team that New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison created to investigate the assassination. As a result, Sahl's comedy took a back seat to his politics; his act started including readings and commentary on the Warren Commission Report. Between his anti-Kennedy jokes and his tantrums onstage against the Warren Commission, he alienated much of his audience. Due to blacklisting, his shows were cancelled, he was ignored and his income dropped to $19,000 a year. However, the rising tide of counterculture in America fuelled his comeback on the stage and television. President Kennedy, with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas Governor John Connally in the presidential limousine shortly before his assassination A handbill circulated on November 21, 1963 In Dallas, Texas, one day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. ... Look up Sheriff in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Earling Carothers Jim Garrison (November 20, 1921 - October 21, 1992) — who changed his first name to simply Jim in the early 60s — was the Democratic District Attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana from 1962 to 1973; he is best known for his investigations into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. ... Warren Commission report cover page The Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as The Warren Commission, was established on November 29, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. ... A blacklist is a list or register of people who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, or mobility. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Sahl was married to Playboy Playmate China Lee, until their divorce in 1991. They had one son. A Playmate is a female model featured in Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Month. ... Playboy centerfold appearance August 1964 Birthplace New Orleans, Louisiana Birthdate September 2, 1942 Measurements 35 - 22 - 35 Height 5 ft 4 in (1. ...

During the 1980s, Sahl made many jokes critical about his old friend, Ronald Reagan. Mort and his wife were then invited to visit the White House by Nancy Reagan, where President Reagan then awarded and roasted Mort at a White House gala/tribute in front of most of the other top comedians. Mort said to television interviewer Charlie Rose of the Reagans, "They are very, very forgiving." Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). ... Nancy Davis Reagan (born July 6, 1921) is the widow of Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. ... Charlie Rose Charles Petee Rose Jr. ...

In the 1988 presidential election, Sahl was the most prominent supporter of unsuccessful candidate Alexander Haig. [1] For other persons named Alexander Haig, see Alexander Haig (disambiguation). ...

His son, Mort Sahl Jr., died March 27, 1996 at the age of 19 years. On his way to the funeral, Sahl met Delta Air Lines flight attendant Kenslea Sahl. They married in 1999. March 27 is the 86th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (87th in leap years). ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... Delta Boeing 757-232 at Los Angeles International Airport in August 2003, showing the livery the airline instituted in 2000. ... Flight attendant in an Embraer ERJ 145 LR (PBair, Thailand) Stewardess, circa 1949-50, American Overseas, Flagship Denmark, Boeing Stratocruiser Flight attendants, formerly known as sky girls, air hostesses, stewardesses and stewards, are airline staff employed as attendants primarily for the safety of the passengers. ...

Mort is listed #40 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest standup comedians of all time. Comedy Central is a cable television and satellite television channel in the United States and as of January 15, 2007, in Germany[1]. In the course of 2007, Dutch channel The Box will be transformed into the Dutch version of Comedy Central. ...

In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the 1970s, Sahl told Carson a story. He said once he was riding on Air Force One during the Kennedy years, when they hit a pocket of rough turbulence. JFK said to Mort, 'You know, if this plane crashed, we would probably all be killed, wouldn't we?' Sahl responded, 'Yes, Mr. President.' To which JFK then added, 'And it occurs to me that your name would be in very small print!'" The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was the full name of NBCs The Tonight Show during the years that Johnny Carson hosted from 1962 to 1992. ... Air Force One is the air traffic control call sign of any U.S. Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. ...

Sahl, who is Jewish, was recipient of the Fifth Annual Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor (2003) from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... Alan King (December 26, 1927 – May 9, 2004), born Irwin Alan Kniberg, was an American comedian known for his biting wit and often angry humorous rants. ... The National Foundation for Jewish Culture (NFJC) is the leading advocate for Jewish cultural life and creativity in the United States. ...


About his ideology, "I'm not a Liberal, I'm a Radical!"

About liberals and conservatives, "Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen."

About politics and evolution, "There were four million people in the American Colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!" This article is becoming very long. ... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ... Robert Joseph Bob Dole (born July 22, 1923) is best known as a former Republican presidential nominee in the 1996 presidential election, in which he was defeated by then-incumbent President Bill Clinton. ... Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an eminent English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by convincing the scientific community that species develop over time from a common origin. ...

About George W. Bush, "He's the face on the can. But who canned that soup?" George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ...

About Richard M. Nixon, "Would you buy a used car from this man?" Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ...

About cosmetic sugery, "There's so much Botox around now that you can't tell when a Jewish girl is angry!" Botulin toxin or botox is the toxic compound produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. ...

About comedy, "It has changed. It isn't funny anymore!"

On the House Committee on Un-American Activities, "Every time the Russians throw an American in jail, the Committee throws an American in jail to get even." The House Committee on Un-American Activities or HUAC (1945-1975) was an investigating committee of the United States House of Representatives. ...

To Otto Preminger about his film Exodus, "Otto - let my people go" (reputed - referring to its 220 minute length) Otto Ludwig Preminger (December 5, 1906 – April 23, 1986) was a film director. ... Exodus Exodus is a 1960 film starring Paul Newman. ...

Asked his motto: "If you can't join them, beat them."

"If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason." -- From the recording Mort Sahl at the hungry i The hungry i was a legendary San Francisco nightclub operated in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Enrico Banducci at 599 Jackson Street in the North Beach district. ...


Sue Babior (1955 - 1958)

China Lee (1967 - 1991)

Kenslea Sahl (1997 - )

Film career

Partial Filmography

  • Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge (1987) (TV) .... Interviewer
  • Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) .... Uncle Mort
  • Inside the Third Reich (1982) (TV) .... Werner Finck
  • Don't Make Waves (1967) .... Sam Lingonberry
  • Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding (1967) .... Dan Ruskin
  • Johnny Cool (1963) .... Ben Morrow
  • All the Young Men (1960) .... Cpl. Crane
  • In Love and War (1958) .... Danny Krieger


  • Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor, accessed 14 September 2006. Includes a video montage of Sahl.

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Mort Sahl
Preceded by
Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell, and James Stewart
30th Academy Awards
"Oscars" host
31st Academy Awards (with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, and Tony Randall)
Succeeded by
Bob Hope
32nd Academy Awards

  Results from FactBites:
Mort Sahl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (801 words)
Morton Lyon Sahl (born May 11, 1927) is a Montreal-born actor/comedian/humorist credited with pioneering a style of stand-up comedy that paved the way for Lenny Bruce, Nichols and May, Dick Gregory, and others.
Mort was drafted into the US Air Force and served at an Air Force Base in Alaska.
Mort and China were then invited to visit the White House by Nancy Reagan, where Reagan then awarded and roasted Mort at a White House Gala/tribute in front of most of the other comedians.
max s. gerber: mort sahl (116 words)
a funny thing about mort sahl (aside from him being an influential comedian) - i found out that my mother almost married him, before she went for my dad.
this was taken at what mort refers to as his "office" - the starbucks on the top of mulholland.
mort didn't get out of his corner chair the whole time.
  More results at FactBites »



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