Jackie Mason, a rabbi who became a Tony-award winning comedian and dominated stage and screen for decades with irascible humor and biting social commentary, died Saturday night at the age of 93.
The comedian passed away around at 6 p.m. ET at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after a brief illness, his lawyer Raoul Felder told The Associated Press.
Energetic and feisty, Mason entertained audiences with a mix of social commentary, often about being Jewish, biting humor about relationships and witty self-deprecation about his own insecurities.
“I was so self-conscious, every time football players went into a huddle; I thought they were talking about me,” he once quipped.
As for men and women, he once said that "80% of married men cheat in America. The rest cheat in Europe.”
The son of a rabbi who also served his own congregation before comedy called him to the road, Mason saved some of his best humor for his Jewish heritage.
During a stage routine a decade ago, Mason left his audience in stitches with a routine comparing Gentiles and Jews in a restaurant. "You ever see Gentiles at a restaurant, the food won't be served for 12 years and they'll never complain, never say a word," he joked. "You don't serve a Jew for a minute and it's 'What's taking so long. ... I was here before them.'"
Mason's passing was mourned across the globe. Variety magazine hailed him as a "one of the last Borscht Belt comedians" while Fox News Host Sean Hannity called him "irreverent, iconoclastic, funny, smart and a great American patriot.”
Mason began his comedy career in the clubs of the Catskill Mountains six decades ago before rising to television, scoring his own show and eventually making it to Broadway, where he won a special Tony award in 1988 for his solo show "The World According to Me.”
Though endlessly funny, Mason also had a naughty side too. He was banned for two years from the Ed Sullivan show when he allegedly flipped the finger when the show's iconic host signaled to him to wrap up his act during an appearance in 1964, AP reported.