Celebrity Birthday of the Day – October 13

Legendary comedian Lenny Bruce was actually born Leonard Schneider, and long before he was a legendary comedian, he served in the United States Navy during World War 2. During this time, he would frequently entertain his shipmates with comedy routines in which he’d dress in drag. This upset his superior officers, and after Bruce jokingly told the ship’s medical officer he was experiencing homosexual urges, he was dishonourably discharged. An appeal changed the discharge to read that he was let go “Under Honourable Conditions”, as he had never actually admitted to being homosexual. After returning from the war, Bruce made his way to New York City intent on becoming a professional comedian. He struggled to make a name for himself for many years, being coached by comedian Joe Ancis, and his early career included writing screenplays for the films Dance Hall Racket (which starred himself, his wife and his mother), Dream Follies, and The Rocket Man. It was during this time that Bruce also released four original comedy albums, which began to grow in popularity in the early 1960s, and resulted in several television appearances, including his TV debut on the Steve Allen Show. In spite of his popularity, however, Bruce only ever appeared on television six times. Bruce’s career was riddled with legal troubles, with charges of drug possession and a well-publicized obscenity trial being at the forefront – George Carlin was actually in the audience for the performance that led to Bruce’s arrest for obscenity. On August 3, 1966, Lenny Bruce was found dead of a drug overdose in his Hollywood Hills home. He was 40 years old. He may not have found the huge audience that other comedians have found since, but his influence can be felt in just about all of modern comedy. 37 years after his death, in 2007, the governor of New York posthumously pardoned Bruce for his obscenity charge. It’s also worth noting that Bruce was portrayed in the film Lenny by Dustin Hoffman.


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