The comedy world is in mourning today, as one of the greats has passed away earlier. Shelley Berman, perhaps best known to modern audiences as Nat David, Larry David's father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, died this morning at the age of 92. The comedian passed at his home in Bell Canyon, California, due to complications from Alzheimer's Disease, according to his spokesperson, Glenn Schwartz.
Time reported on the late comedian's death this morning. As a stand up comedian, Shelley Berman was a pioneer of observational comedy, poking fun at every day occurrences, which helped pave the way for iconic comedians like Bob Newhart, Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld. While he never became a household name like the comedians who followed in his footsteps, Shelley Berman was continuously working on the big and small screen in a career that spanned nearly six decades.
Shelley Berman was born February 3, 1925 in Chicago, and he started studying acting after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy after fighting in World War II. He started studying acting at Chicago's Goodman Theater, where he would meet his future wife, Sarah Herman, who he married in 1947. After graduating from the Goodman Theater, Shelley and Sarah moved on to the Woodstock Players, a theater company in Woodstock, Illinois, where they worked alongside Geraldine Page, Betsy Palmer and Tom Bosley. They both left the company in 1949, travelling the country in search of acting work. When he couldn't find an acting gig, he took up work as a social director, cab driver, speech teacher, an assistant manager at a drug store and even as an instructor at the Arthur Murray Dance Studios. The late actor and writer was working as a writer for The Steve Allen Plymouth Show before returning to Chicago to join a group known as The Compass Players, which ultimately evolved into the iconic company now known as Second City.
While performing in the improvised comedy troupe alongside Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Severn Darden and Barbara Harris, he also started developing his stand up comedy act, when he realized that he didn't necessarily have to tell standard jokes like everybody else. His act started at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago, and quickly lead to nightclub appearances around the country, TV appearances and his first recording contract with Verve Records, which lead to his 1959 album "Inside Shelley Berman", which became the first comedy alum to receive a gold record for selling over 1 million copies, and it also became the first non-musical album ever to win a Grammy Award.
Shelley Berman went on to record six comedy albums for Verve and he also spent 20 years as a professor, teaching humor writing in the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. Among his numerous film appearances are roles in The Legend of Secret Pass, You Don't Mess With the Zohan, The Holiday, The Aristocrats, Meet the Fockers, The Last Producer, Teen Witch and many more. He has also appeared in episodes of Boston LegalCSI: NY, Hannah Montana, Entourage, Grey's Anatomy and King of Queens, just to name a few. He is survived by his wife Sarah Herman and their two children. At this time, it hasn't been announced if he will return in /curb-your-enthusiasm-season-9-trailer/Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9, which debuts on HBO later this year.