August 14, 2014 3:00 PM EDT

With a staff that included Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H), Sid Caesar’s variety show indirectly launched a generation of movie, TV and theater comedy brilliance. But the main attractions here were Caesar and costar Imogene Coca, who paired up on outstanding live skits and parodies. Coca was a versatile performer, who could play aristocrats as well as hoboes; Caesar was fast-talking and dynamic. It was a tremendous weekly output for a relative handful of performers and after four years Caesar and Coca split up, but not before giving birth to sketch comedy as we know it—a show of shows indeed.

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