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Legends, Not Dinosaurs

June 12, 1988

I read Lawrence Christon's scathing and belittling review of "The Living Legends of Comedy" performance headlined by Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Danny Thomas (The Comedy Column, June 5).

The only problem with Christon's review was that in quoting segments from their act, unwittingly, he demonstrated how timeless and how good their act is.

He characterized Berle as "desperate," Caesar as "bewildered," and Thomas as "sentimental," as though he had discovered their key weaknesses.

But it is just those elements that were always common to the work of these artists. Caesar wanted the audience to feel he was bewildered, Berle's appeal was built around his desperately seeking audience approval and Thomas was always a sentimentalist.

These are the elements that appealed to audiences for decades--and still do. Hope's "conceit" and Benny's "miserliness" never detracted from America's love affair with them.

Similarly, these very attributes are part of the persona of these great stars--which is why they have survived and are loved by today's audiences as they were loved by yesterday's. The best thing is that these three are artists, not only with great pasts, but with great futures.


Beverly Hills

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