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Dick Shawn

One-of-a-kind nightclub comedian/singer Dick Shawn (ne Richard Schulefand) was as off-the-wall as they came and, as such, proved to be rather an acquired taste. Way ahead of his time most say, it was extremely difficult indeed to know how to properly tap into this man's eclectic talents. Shawn began inching toward the forefront during the be-bop 50s and early 60s with his odd penchant for playing cool cats.During his mild bid for film stardom, he was top-billed as a hip, laid back genie in the thoroughly dismal satire The Wizard of Baghdad (1960), but seemed to have better luck when taken in smaller doses. He fared quite well opposite another "way-out-there" comedian, Ernie Kovacs, in Wake Me When It's Over (1960) as a hustling soldier out to make a buck in the Far East. Also on the plus side, he replaced Zero Mostel in the bawdy musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" on Broadway and stole a small scene in the all-star epic comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963). By far, the one role that completely overshadows all of his other hard work is his mock portrayal of a singing Adolf Hitler in the show-within-a-movie The Producers (1968). In the film, which starred Mostel and Gene Wilder as two con artists deliberately producing a stage "bomb" called "Springtime for Hitler," Shawn sang the hammy, absurdly narcissistic song "Love Power." The movie finally captured Shawn in his element, but this stroke of genius of matching actor to role would never happen again for him. For the most part his roles came off slick and smarmy, and were stuck in mediocre material.Shawn won a huge fan base, however, touring in one-man stage shows which contained a weird mix of songs, sketches, satire, philosophy and even pantomime. A bright, innovative wit, one of his best touring shows was called "The Second Greatest Entertainer in the World." During the show's intermission, Shawn would lie visibly on the stage floor absolutely still during the entire time. By freakish coincidence, Shawn was performing at the University of California at San Diego in 1987 when he suddenly fell forward on the stage during one of his spiels about the Holocaust. The audience, of course, laughed, thinking it was just a part of his odd shtick. In actuality, the 63-year-old married actor with four children had suffered a fatal heart attack. A not surprising end for this thoroughly offbeat and intriguing personality.

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Dec 1, 1923 In Buffalo, New York, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Opposite Sex 1956-10-26
Latest Project:
Movie The Tommy Chong Roast 1989-04-26
Known For
Movie The Tommy Chong Roast 1989-04-26
Movie Maid to Order Stan Starkey 1987-07-10
Movie Captain EO Commander Bog 1986-01-01
Movie The Perils of P.K The psychiatrist 1986-06-06
Movie Water Deke Halliday 1985-01-01
Movie Best Chest in the West Himself (Host) 1984-01-01
Movie Good-bye Cruel World Rodney Pointsetter / Ainsley Pointsetter 1983-01-02
Movie Young Warriors Professor Hoover 1983-08-28
Movie Love at First Bite Lieutenant Ferguson NYPD 1979-04-26
Movie Evil Roy Slade Marshal Bing Bell 1972-02-18
Movie The Happy Ending Harry Bricker 1969-12-21
Movie The Producers Lorenzo St. DuBois (L.S.D.) 1967-11-22
Movie Way... Way Out Igor Valkleinokov 1966-10-26
Movie What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Captain Lionel Cash 1966-01-01
Movie Penelope Dr. Mannix 1966-11-10
Movie A Very Special Favor 1965-08-02
Movie The Wizard of Baghdad Genii-Ali Mahmud 1961-03-03
Movie Wake Me When It's Over Gus Brubaker 1960-06-10
Movie The Opposite Sex Dick Shawn 1956-10-26
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