Legendary Jewish comedian Jackie Mason has died at 93, The New York Times reported on Saturday night.
Born Yakov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the self-described “Ultimate Jew” followed the path of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and worked as a rabbi for three years before becoming one of the most well-known — and beloved — Jewish comedians. He rose to fame as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s and enjoyed a career renaissance with a series of one-man Broadway shows starting in the 1980s.
With his Yiddish-inflected English, Mason brought Jewish humor to the masses — with much of his material good-naturedly poking fun at American Jews.
His storied career has included frequent guest appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and a litany of subsequent credits, including The Jackie Mason Show (2005-2011), as well as Sleeper (1973), The Stoolie (1974), The Jerk (1979), History of the World, Part I (1981), Caddyshack II (1988), six television specials, a dozen recorded comedy collections, nine one-man shows — and the voice of Rabbi Hyman Krustofki in “The Simpsons.”
In an interview with The Times of Israel in 2016, Mason described his deep connection to Judaism and Israel, saying the Jewish state was “a matter of life and death because without Israel, Jews from all over the world would have no chance to survive.”
“I have a great identification with Judaism as a religion and as a culture, and all the values that created such a great history, and the Jewish contribution to the betterment of all humanity. Everything about my attitude and my thoughts were impacted greatly by being raised in this culture. My observations… of all of humanity express themselves in my comedy,” he said.
Mason is survived by his wife, Jyll Rosenfeld, and daughter Sheba Mason.
Lisa Klug, agencies contributed to this report.