Comedian Charlie Callas dies
Charlie Callas, a rubber-faced funnyman who often appeared on television in the 1960s and 1970s, has died at 86 -- or 83. (His family says he was 83, but all reference sources say he was born in 1924, which would make him 86.
Callas had an old-fashioned kind of humor that doesn't seem politically correct today. He often played off physical tics such as stuttering, speech problems and shaking, but he was also a brilliant impressionist who could do dead-on sound effects of almost anything. (One of his standard gags was a phone call that began with his impression of a rotary telephone being dialed.)
Callas toured with Frank Sinatra, was often featured on Dean Martin's television programs and appeared frequently on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show -- until Callas gave Carson a shove and was banned from the show for life.
Not many people realize that Callas began his show-business career as a big-band drummer in the 1940s, as he shows in this amazing clip from what appears to be the 1980s.
Callas was particularly good on comedy roasts, which are often vulgar, profane affairs, but he managed this hilarious sendup of Frank Sinatra -- in which he pretended to be Sinatra's bodyguard -- without saying anything that would be bleeped on television. (The sound quality is rather poor.)
| January 28, 2011; 1:04 PM ET
Categories: Matt Schudel
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