Actor/Comedian Jackie Mason Dies at 93
Actor and comedian Jackie Mason passed away on July 24, 2021, at the age of 93.
First reported by The New York Times, Mason had been hospitalized for two weeks with difficulty breathing. According to his longtime friend Raoul Felder, Mason died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on July 24 surrounded by his wife Jyll Rosenfeld and a few of his closest friends. There will be a small, private funeral service on Sunday and a public memorial service to be scheduled at a later date.
Mason was born on June 9, 1928, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as Yacov Moshe Maza. When he was five years old, Mason's family moved to New York where he learned his destined path was to become a rabbi. His grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfathers and three older brothers were all rabbis, but he knew this was not his calling. "It was unheard-of to think of anything else," Mason said later in his life. "But I knew, from the time I'm 12, I had to plot to get out of this, because this is not my calling."
Mason was ordained after completing his studies at Yeshiva University, but he spent his summers writing comic monologues and getting on stage at any chance he could find. After his father's death in 1959, Mason pursued his comedic dreams under a new name, Jackie Mason. In 1960, he became noticed by comedian Jan Murray who referred him to Steve Allen. Mason then had two appearances on The Steve Allen Show, which jumpstarted his career. He became a regular on variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and even recorded two albums called I Am the Greatest Comedian in the World Only Nobody Knows It Yet and I Want to Leave You With the Words of a Great Comedian.
In 1986, Mason created his famed one-man show, The World According to Me! which won him a special Tony Award in 1987 and an Emmy for writing when an abridged version aired on HBO in 1988. However, many fans may know him best for his stint on The Simpsons as the voice of Krusty the Clown's father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky. Mason voiced the rabbi for 11 episodes until 2019, even after the character died on the show in 2014. He also appeared on Fairly OddParents, Caddyshack II and 30 Rock.
Felder stated that when Mason died, the doctors and nurses tending to him wept. "They were all fans of his. They were all crying," he said. "He was like a shooting star that comes every 100 years. I think the world has lost a very unique individual."