|Height:||173 cm (5' 9'')|
|Birth Day:||May 11, 1927|
|Birth Place:||Montreal, Canada|
|Height:||173 cm (5' 9'')|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
After graduation, he spent time in Alaska serving the U.S. Air Force.
Sahl was born on May 11, 1927, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the only child of Jewish parents. His father, Harry Sahl, came from an immigrant family on New York's Lower East Side, and hoped to become a Broadway playwright. He met his wife when she responded to an advertisement he took out in a poetry magazine. Unable to break into the writing field they moved to Canada where he owned a tobacco store in Montreal.
He was discharged in 1947 and enrolled in Compton College, followed by the University of Southern California. He received a B.S. degree in 1950 with majors in traffic engineering and city management. He continued with the masters program but dropped out to become an actor and playwright.
Between 1950 and 1953 he tried to get jobs as a stand-up comedian in about 30 nightclubs throughout Los Angeles, but with no success. NBC, where he once auditioned, told him he would never succeed as a comedian. He even offered to perform free during intermissions for the chance to show his talent. He recalls that period: "Despite all the folklore about the faith of friends in the struggling young artist, my friends constantly discouraged me." He and a friend then rented an old theater, which they called Theater X, for "experimental," and he began writing and staging one-act plays. One of his plays was titled "Nobody Trusted the Truth." But unable to attract a large enough audience, they eventually closed the theater.
In 1953 he began dating Sue Babior. When she moved to Berkeley to study at the University of California, Sahl hitchhiked there to be with her. He spent his time auditing classes and hanging out at local coffee houses. For income he wrote for a few avant-garde publications. He slept in the back seat of a friend's car since Babior was living with roommates, including Nancy Droeger and Althia Sims. "Things were simple then," he says. "All we had to worry about was the destiny of man." He felt at home in the San Francisco Bay Area, commenting, "I was born in San Francisco." The three years he lived in Berkeley were a valuable experience, he said.
Numerous celebrities dropped by to see his shows after they heard about the "new phenomenon," referring to Sahl's unique style of comedy. Woody Allen, who saw his show at the Blue Angel in 1954, commented that "he was suddenly this great genius that appeared who revolutionized the medium." British comedy actor John Cleese became immediately interested in Sahl's radical style of humor, and accorded to him the same level of respect that the Beatles once reserved for Elvis Presley.
Sahl has been married three times. He married Susan J. Babior in 1955; they divorced in 1958.
Sahl's popularity "mushroomed like an Atomic cloud during the 50s," says filmmaker Robert B. Weide, adding, "Simply put, Mort Sahl reinvented stand-up comedy." Time magazine in 1960 published a cover story about him and his rise to fame, in which they described him as "the best of the New Comedians [and] the first notable American political satirist since Will Rogers." Along with his nightclub performances, he appeared in some films and on television shows, including his network debut on The NBC Comedy Hour in May 1956.
They valued the fact that he stayed current and took material from major newspapers and magazines. He kept his material fresh, wrote few notes, and entertained his audiences by presenting otherwise serious news with his brand of humor. He was not fond of television news, however, which he blamed in 1960 for "spoon-feeding" the public, and was therefore responsible for the "corruption and ignorance that may sink this country."
Sahl's humor is based on current events, especially politics, which led Milton Berle to describe him as "one of the greatest political satirists of all time." His trademark persona is to enter the stage with a newspaper in hand, casually dressed in a V-neck sweater. He would often recite some news stories combined with satire. He was dubbed "Will Rogers with fangs" by Time magazine in 1960.
Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Sahl's interest in who was responsible was so great that he became a deputized member of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's team to investigate the assassination. As a result, Sahl's comedy would often reflect his politics and included readings and commentary about the Warren Commission Report, of which he consistently disputed the accuracy. He alienated much of his audience, was effectively blacklisted and more of his planned shows were cancelled. His income dropped from $1 million to $19,000 by 1964. According to Nachman, the excessive focus on the Kennedy assassination details was Sahl's undoing and wrecked his career. Sahl later admitted that "there's never been anything that had a stronger impact on my life than this issue," but added that he nonetheless "thought it was a wonderful quest."
In 1967 he married actress and model China Lee and they divorced in 1991. They had one son, Mort Sahl Jr., who died in 1996, aged 19, from an unknown drug-related reaction.
In 1976, Sahl wrote an autobiography called Heartland. In June 2007 a number of star comedians including George Carlin and Jonathan Winters, gave Sahl an 80th birthday tribute.
By the 1970s the rising tide of counterculture eventually fueled Sahl's partial comeback as a veteran comedian, and he was included along with the new comedians breaking into the field, such as George Carlin, Lily Tomlin and Richard Pryor. In the 1980s he headlined for Banducci's new clubs in San Francisco. In the late 1980s he was trying to write screenplays, besides doing sporadic shows around the country. In 1987 he had a successful multiweek run in Australia.
In 1988 Sahl was back in New York and performed a one-man Off-Broadway show, Mort Sahl's America, which, despite getting good reviews from critics was not a box office success. The New York Times stated, "History has returned Mort Sahl to the spotlight when he is most needed. His style has an intuitive spontaneity. His presence is tonic." Robert Weide produced a biographical documentary, Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition, which ran on PBS in 1989.
However, the level of success he once had now eluded him. One Los Angeles Times critic wrote, "Sahl is a man with a country but not a stage." A number of television specials gave him a venue to perform in front of live audiences. The Monitor Channel broadcast a series of eight shows called Mort Sahl Live beginning in November 1991.
In 1997 he married Kenslea Ann Motter; they divorced around 2009. He regrets their separation, saying "I'm sorry I divorced Kenslea; I'm still in love with my wife. If you love a woman it'll make her a better woman."
From the 1990s on he has performed, but less often and mostly in theaters and college auditoriums. When Woody Allen saw him perform in 2001 at one of his rare New York club appearances, Allen told him, "this is crazy—you should be working all the time." Allen then called his manager Jack Rollins: "Listen, this guy is hilarious. We gotta bring him to New York." Sahl then did shows at Joe's Pub in Manhattan to standing-room only audiences.
Sahl is #40 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time, ranked between Billy Crystal and Jon Stewart. In 2003 he received the Fifth Annual Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Sahl does not drink, smoke, use drugs or use swear words, on or off stage. In 2008, Sahl moved from Los Angeles to Mill Valley, California, a suburb of San Francisco, where he became friends with comedian Robin Williams who lived nearby. Sahl works every Thursday night taking questions from the live audience and from Periscope/Twitter.
In 2011, the Library of Congress placed his 1955 recording, At Sunset, on the National Recording Registry.
He sought out any clubs where he could perform as a stand-up, and Babior suggested he audition for the hungry i, a nightclub in San Francisco. Its owner, Enrico Banducci, took an immediate liking to Sahl's comedy style and offered him a job at $75 a week (About $720 in 2020 money), which became his first steady job as a stand-up comedian.
Word about Sahl's satirical comedy acts spread quickly. He received good reviews from influential newspaper columnist, Herb Caen, which gave him instant credibility: "I don't know where Mr. Sahl came from but I'm glad he's here," he wrote after watching his show. Caen began inviting his own friends, such as film comedians Danny Kaye and Eddie Cantor, to watch Sahl's performances. Cantor took him "under his wing" and gave him suggestions.By the end of his first year at the hungry i, Sahl was earning $3,000 a week (about $29,000 a week in 2020 money) and performing to packed houses. "I'd be washing cars if it weren't for Enrico," he said later in his career, appreciating that Banducci was the first club owner to give him the chance to perform as a stand-up comedian.
Mort had a son, Mort Sahl Jr., with his wife, Playboy Playmate China Lee.
Currently, Mort Sahl is 95 years, 10 months and 17 days old. Mort Sahl will celebrate 96th birthday on a Thursday 11th of May 2023. Below we countdown to Mort Sahl upcoming birthday.
Mort Sahl, Social Satirist <br/> Happy 90th Birthday! – Throckmorton Theatre
Birthday: Mort Sahl
Comedian Mort Sahl is 88.