It seems fitting, if sad, that Ed Koch should pass away on the same day that "Koch," a documentary about his life, opened in Manhattan. Though the three-term mayor of New York City, who died early Friday of congestive heart failure, is best known for overseeing the city during the dark days of the late 1970s and '80s, hizzoner was also a prolific and indefatigable media personality who appeared as himself in dozens of television shows, commercials, movies and news broadcasts over the years.
Koch began carving out a second career on camera well before he left office. In 1983, he became the first New York mayor to host "Saturday Night Live." In the sketch above, he stars opposite Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo in a commercial for "Bald No More," a magical tonic that transforms his chrome dome into a Don King-esque mane. While serving as mayor, Koch also appeared in "The Muppets Take Manhattan," the NBC sitcom "Gimme a Break!" and in Woody Allen's "New York Stories."
After he moved out of Gracie Mansion in 1989, Koch continued to court the limelight, making cameos in series including "Spin City," "The Critic" and "Sex and the City." Though he was no longer a public servant, Koch, like Woody Allen or Robert DeNiro, seemed to personify the city in a way that resonated far beyond the five boroughs.
He capitalized on this association throughout the 1990s and 2000s, starring in a slew of ad campaigns for products like Fresh Direct, Ultra Slim-Fast and Coca-Cola. In this circa 1993 spot for Snapple, Koch showed up on the doorstep of a Kentucky man who contended the beverage was "the only good thing to come out of New York" and set him straight.
Koch's showbiz career arguably peaked in 1997, when he joined the syndicated show "The People's Court." While hearing sensationalized testimony in small claims court was something of a step down for the man who ran the country's largest metropolis for over a decade, Koch had the right no-nonsense personality for the job. Alas, so did "Judge Judy." In 1999, the mayor was replaced by Judy's husband, Gerald Sheinlin.
In more recent years, Koch established himself as an amateur film critic, offering a curmudgeon's perspective on movies such as "The Tree of Life" ("What's the movie about? Got me!") and "Bridesmaids" ("When a woman defecates in a sink in a bathroom because all of the women now have food poisoning, it's a little much").