This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Shecky Greene.
Shecky Greene is considered by his peers to be the consummate nightclub performer. As a headliner in Las Vegas for more than 30 years he has been seen by millions of people. He does not have a repetitious act, but each performance is tailored to his audience. Quoting Bob Hope, he is truly a “comedian’s comedian” who not only tells jokes, but sings, tells stories, improvises songs during a show–and occasionally becomes quite physical on stage.
Las Vegas is known for featuring the world’s best and most talented performers, and Shecky’s has always been the show to see–not only for hotel guests, but for those who live there as well. His comedic talent is enjoyed by other entertainers who on their nights off stay after their own engagements to watch him perform. Jerry Lewis calls him “the epitome of comic genius.”
Greene hails from Chicago and began his career near Milwaukee while still in college. He left college for good when Martha Raye asked him to play her club in Miami, and later returned to Chicago to work the famed night spot, The Chez Paree.
His move to Las Vegas was a natural step in his career. It was there that he introduced Elvis to the Las Vegas audience when Presley performed as his opening act.. His work in films include “Splash,” “Mel Brooks History of the World Part 1,” and “Tony Rome.”
He was the guest host on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Mike Douglas Show,” but he is probably best remembered for his role as Braddock in the hit action drama, “Combat.”