Caesar was one of brightest lights of the early days of television. Whereas some comedians would bring their radio shows (Jack Benny, Fred Allen) or vaudeville routines (Milton Berle) to television, Caesar’s Your Show of Shows push the boundaries of what the new medium could offer, presenting sketches, film parodies and comedy bits designed especially for the new medium.
Your Show of Shows has become legendary for its writers room, which served as inspiration for the 1982 film My Favorite Year (and TV’s The Dick Van Dyke Show and Broadway’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor as well). Numerous writers who have made their names in film got their start on the show, most notably Neil Simon, Mel Brooks and, in Caesar’s follow-up show, Caesar’s Hour, Larry Gelbart (Not, as is rumored, with Woody Allen, at least not on this show. Caesar gave the young Allen some early writing work on a special that he did after this show went off the air) .
Caesar appeared in a number of films during his professional career, including small parts in Tars and Spars and The Guilt of Janet Ames before his TV career began, and a number of high profile cameos in film after his legend was established in films such a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Airport 1975, Grease and Cannonball Run II. He also partnered with his protegee Mel Brooks on two of the directors films, Silent Movie and History of the World: Part I.