Image of Dick Shawn

Dick Shawn

One-of-a-kind nightclub comedian/singer Dick Shawn (ne Richard Schulefand) was as off-the-wall as they came and, as such, proved to be rather an acquired taste. Way ahead of his time most say, it was extremely difficult indeed to know how to properly tap into this man's eclectic talents. Shawn began inching toward the forefront during the be-bop 50s and early 60s with his odd penchant for playing cool cats.During his mild bid for film stardom, he was top-billed as a hip, laid back genie in the thoroughly dismal satire The Wizard of Baghdad (1960), but seemed to have better luck when taken in smaller doses. He fared quite well opposite another "way-out-there" comedian, Ernie Kovacs, in Wake Me When It's Over (1960) as a hustling soldier out to make a buck in the Far East. Also on the plus side, he replaced Zero Mostel in the bawdy musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" on Broadway and stole a small scene in the all-star epic comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963). By far, the one role that completely overshadows all of his other hard work is his mock portrayal of a singing Adolf Hitler in the show-within-a-movie The Producers (1968). In the film, which starred Mostel and Gene Wilder as two con artists deliberately producing a stage "bomb" called "Springtime for Hitler," Shawn sang the hammy, absurdly narcissistic song "Love Power." The movie finally captured Shawn in his element, but this stroke of genius of matching actor to role would never happen again for him. For the most part his roles came off slick and smarmy, and were stuck in mediocre material.Shawn won a huge fan base, however, touring in one-man stage shows which contained a weird mix of songs, sketches, satire, philosophy and even pantomime. A bright, innovative wit, one of his best touring shows was called "The Second Greatest Entertainer in the World." During the show's intermission, Shawn would lie visibly on the stage floor absolutely still during the entire time. By freakish coincidence, Shawn was performing at the University of California at San Diego in 1987 when he suddenly fell forward on the stage during one of his spiels about the Holocaust. The audience, of course, laughed, thinking it was just a part of his odd shtick. In actuality, the 63-year-old married actor with four children had suffered a fatal heart attack. A not surprising end for this thoroughly offbeat and intriguing personality.

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Dec 1, 1923 In Buffalo, New York, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the series Mary
Latest Project:
Movie Something a Little Less Serious: A Tribute to 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World' 1991-01-01
Known For
Poster of The Twilight Zone
Poster of Way... Way Out
Poster of The Opposite Sex
Poster of Mary
Series Mary Unknown 2020
Movie Something a Little Less Serious: A Tribute to 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World' Archive Footage 1991-01-01
Movie The Tommy Chong Roast 1989-04-26
Movie Maid to Order Stan Starkey 1987-07-10
Movie Captain EO Commander Bog 1986-01-01
Movie Water Deke Halliday 1985-01-01
Series Hail to the Chief 1985-04-09
Series The Twilight Zone Unknown 1985-09-27
Movie Best Chest in the West Himself (Host) 1984-01-01
Movie Angel Mae 1984-04-19
Series Tales from the Darkside Unknown 1984-09-30
Movie Young Warriors Professor Hoover 1983-08-28
Movie Good-bye Cruel World Rodney Pointsetter / Ainsley Pointsetter 1983-01-02
Series St. Elsewhere Unknown 1982-10-26
Series Magnum, P.I. Unknown 1980-12-11
Movie Love at First Bite Lieutenant Ferguson NYPD 1979-04-26
Series Laverne & Shirley Unknown 1976-01-27
Movie The Year Without a Santa Claus Snow Miser (voice) 1974-12-10
Movie Evil Roy Slade Marshal Bing Bell 1972-02-18
Movie Dames at Sea Lucky 1971-11-15
Movie Annie: the Women in the Life of a Man Himself 1970-02-18
Movie The Happy Ending Harry Bricker 1969-12-21
Series Medical Center Unknown 1969-09-24
Movie The Producers Lorenzo St. DuBois (L.S.D.) 1967-11-22
Movie What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Captain Lionel Cash 1966-01-01
Series That Girl Unknown 1966-09-08
Series ABC Stage 67 Unknown 1966-09-14
Movie Way... Way Out Igor Valkleinokov 1966-10-26
Movie Penelope Dr. Mannix 1966-11-10
Movie A Very Special Favor 1965-08-14
Movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Sylvester Marcus 1963-11-07
Series Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Unknown 1963-10-04
Series The Lucy Show Unknown 1962-10-01
Movie The Wizard of Baghdad Genii-Ali Mahmud 1961-03-03
Movie Wake Me When It's Over Gus Brubaker 1960-06-10
Series The DuPont Show with June Allyson Unknown 1959-09-21
Series The Dinah Shore Chevy Show Unknown 1956-10-05
Movie The Opposite Sex Dick Shawn 1956-10-26
Movie The Caine Mutiny 1954-06-23
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Series The Ed Sullivan Show Unknown 1948-06-20