December 7 2021
7:12 AM
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Jackie Mason, who went from rabbi to stand-up comedy star, dies at 93

Story by H.J. Mai

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Published on September 20, 2021 5:05 AM
Stand-up comedian Jackie Mason, who followed a path from rabbi to borscht-belt comedian, died in a New York City hospital on Saturday. He was 93. Mason's longtime friend Raoul Felder confirmed his death to NPR. He said Mason was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago and suffered from a variety of ailments, including inflammation of the lungs. There are no indications that COVID-19 was a factor in the comedian's death.

The sometimes controversial Mason garnered national attention for his quick-witted observational humor, which led to TV appearances and several successful one-man Broadway shows. Mason used stories from his orthodox Jewish background, a thick Yiddish accent and wild gestures to keep his audiences entertained for decades.

Mason didn't know comedy could be a career

Mason was born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisc. to a long line of rabbis. His family later moved New York City, where he originally joined the family trade becoming an ordained rabbi himself.

"I didn't know there was such a thing as comedians when I was growing up," Mason told Fresh Air host Terry Gross in 1987. "When I was funny around [the] table in the house, I thought I was the only person who knew how to be funny in this whole world."

He broke into comedy performing routines at summer resorts in the Catskills in upstate New York. It was there that...


Jackie Mason

Jackie Mason was an American stand-up comedian and film and television actor. His 1986 one-man show The World According to Me! won a Special Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Ace Award, an Emmy Award, and earned a Grammy nomination. Later, his 1988 special Jackie Mason on Broadway won another Emmy Award and another Ace Award, and his 1991 voice-over of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons episode 'Like Father, Like Clown' won Mason a third Emmy Award. He wrote and performed six one-man shows on Broadway.

Known for his delivery and voice, as well as his use of innuendo and pun, Mason's often culturally grounded humor was described as irreverent and sometimes politically incorrect. A critic for Time magazine wrote that, throughout his career, Mason spoke to audiences: '... with the Yiddish locutions of an immigrant who just completed a course in English. By mail

Political views

A longtime Democrat, Mason was a registered Republican by 2007.:?48–49? He had spoken out in defense of Donald Trump.

Mason was an admirer of Rabbi Meir Kahane. He openly endorsed Kahane's plan to pay Israeli Arabs unwilling to accept Israeli sovereignty to emigrate. He also served as the honored speaker at a fundraising event for a yeshiva founded by Kahane.

In January 2001, Mason co-founded the organization One Jerusalem in response to the Oslo peace agreement. Its stated cause is 'Maintaining a united Jerusalem as the un-divided capital of Israel.


Mason died on July 24, 2021, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after being hospitalized for over two weeks. Many celebrities and other notable figures mourned Mason's death. Gilbert Gottfried called him 'one of the best.' Fox News personality Sean Hannity remarked that he was 'irreverent, iconoclastic, funny, smart and a great American patriot.' Actor Henry Winkler tweeted that Mason put on 'truly one of the funniest shows I have ever seen .. ever .. thank you Jackie and now you get to make heaven laugh.'

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