April 17, 2008

April 17 | Dick Shawn

December 1, 1924 – April 17, 1987: Age 62

Dick Shawn is best known as the original Lorenzo St. Dubois/ Adolf Hitler in The Producers. An American comic, he was so over-the-top that, although he was well-known, his best work was on stage as his prime time TV and movie appearances had to be toned down.

In a stand-up routine in San Diego in April 1987 he was portraying a politician, saying "if elected, I will not lay down on the job." Then he fell face-down onto the stage. The audience thought it was part of the act and laughed, but after a few moments of silence, someone came onstage, checked him out, and called into the audience for a doctor. Shawn had suffered a massive heart attack. He was dead.

Even as he was receiving CPR on stage, the audience was not sure whether it was part of the act or not, but they began to leave after paramedics arrived. Most of them were unaware that he had died until they read the notices in the morning's paper.

Click here to see him as Lorenzo St. DuBois doing the worst audition possible for Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder The Producers (he was hired of course!). Here he is doing stand-up on the Tonight Show a couple of years before his death.

Source: Wikipedia

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