Jackie Mason, iconic comedian with Borscht Belt schtick, dead at 93

Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers attend the 2011 Center For Communications Luncheon at The Pierre Hotel on October 17, 2011 in New York City.
Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers attend the 2011 Center For Communications Luncheon at The Pierre Hotel on October 17, 2011 in New York City. Photo credit Bobby Bank/WireImage
By , 1010 WINS

Jackie Mason, the iconic rabbi-turned-comedian with a Borscht Belt schtick who conquered Broadway with a one-man show, died Saturday at a Manhattan hospital. He was 93.

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Celeb attorney Raoul Felder, a longtime friend of the Wisconsin-born performer, confirmed the news to the New York Times.

"He died peacefully with several close friends and family at his side,” Felder told CNN, adding that he had been hospitalized for two weeks with difficulty breathing.

Mason is survived by wife and manager Jyll Rosenfeld, whom he married in 1991. He is also survived by his daughter, comedian Sheba Mason, from a previous relationship with playwright Ginger Reiter.

Jyll Rosenfeld (L) and comedian Jackie Mason are seen in Midtown on August 17, 2017 in New York City.
Jyll Rosenfeld (L) and comedian Jackie Mason are seen in Midtown on August 17, 2017 in New York City. Photo credit TheStewartofNY/GC Images

In an interview with the New York Times in 1988, Mason described his comedic style this way: "My humor — it’s a man in a conversation, pointing things out to you."

He added, "He’s not better than you, he’s just another guy. I see life with love — I’m your brother up there — but if I see you make a fool out of yourself, I owe it to you to point that out to you.”

Jackie Mason has lunch on 6th Avenue in Manhattan on March 22, 2012 in New York City.
Jackie Mason has lunch on 6th Avenue in Manhattan on March 22, 2012 in New York City. Photo credit Bobby Bank/WireImage

Mason and his family, including his rabbi father, moved to the Lower East Side from Wisconsin, where he was born in 1931. Mason pivoted from his rabbinical career to performing after the death of his father, who had pressured him to continue the family tradition of being a rabbi.

Mason began playing at resorts in the Catskills, and in nightclubs in New York and Miami. He then headed to Los Angeles, where he met another comedian, Jan Murray, who recommended him for high-profile gigs in New York and L.A.

He then began filmwork in the 1970s and in the 1980s, he had a one-man show on Broadway.

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