Budd Friedman, Who Built an Empire of Comedy Clubs, Dies at 90
The actor died Saturday of heart failure at his home in Culver City.
Budd Friedman, who created a network of comedy clubs and a world-renowned television show and won numerous Emmy Awards, was found dead Saturday at his home of heart failure at the age of 90.
“There was no way to tell that he was dying,” said Friedman’s wife, Marceline, who was not told the cause of death until after he was found, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Friedman won a Pulitzer Prize for his work as the creator of “The Big Show,” a comedy club that brought people from all over the country together to enjoy live comedy acts. It ran for 10 seasons between 1958 and 1971 before being shut down.
“The Big Show” opened in 1950 at the Hollywood Club in Culver City.
“The idea of the club was for all the people who were making a living doing comedy to have a place to go where they could get together and have fun,” said Friedman, who was 60 when he founded the club.
Friedman went on to star in “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” just to name a few. He hosted his own television show, “Marceline, America’s Queen of Comedy” and worked on a variety of other projects, including films and documentaries.
“He was a genius, an unparalleled genius,” said Marceline of her husband. “When you work with somebody like that, you know that they had it in the bag from the get-go, that they were there.”
Friedman was born in Queens and raised in New Jersey. He went to high school in nearby Jersey City. His father was a doctor and his mother was a nurse.
“I grew up with people who did well with money, so I didn’t get a great start in life,” Friedman told the Times. “And I had this huge problem that I was going to get fired from the show that I was producing. And so I started working to get into show business as a child.”
He earned $90 a week working as a janitor in a Brooklyn high school.