July 13, 2005


Pratfall down memory lane: Stars from TV’s golden age of comedy gather to reminisce. (Lynn Smith, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

Some of the legendary vaudeville veterans who pioneered television comedy came to a darkened stage at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday, bursting with memories of the old days and unable to resist performing. Call it a lifetime habit.

"I was in show business at 3," said Rose Marie Mazetta ("The Dick Van Dyke Show"). "Before that, I didn't do too much, just hanging around the house."

Rose Marie, 81, who showed up with a bow in her hair, and Sid Caesar, 82, who wore fuzzy slippers, appear in "Pioneers of Primetime," a PBS special airing Nov. 9 and previewed at the Television Critics Assn. summer meeting. But panelists Carl Reiner, 83, Mickey Rooney, 84, and especially Red Buttons, 86, also had plenty to contribute, including an impromptu chorus of "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy."

When Rooney made the somewhat touchy observation that Hollywood was founded by Jews, Buttons piped up, "Yes! I remember you in Andy Hardy and the Hassidic Housewife."

And when Rooney said, "I'm not here to talk about myself," Buttons retorted, "Yes you are." After lavish praise of Lucille Ball, Buttons chimed in, "I never liked her," his head on his fingers and legs crossed, Jack Benny style.

Buttons and Rooney go back to World War II when they served in the same unit. But even the war was a ripe subject for comedy. "One day he saved our entire outfit," Buttons said. "He killed a cook."

Just read a terrific book about the old comedy teams.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 13, 2005 11:59 PM

A whole roomful of Dead or Alive?" contestants, uh, alive!

Posted by: Rick T. at July 14, 2005 1:41 PM