Los Angeles: American comedian Norm Cosby, who thrived in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s as a television, nightclub and casino comedian, has passed away. He was 93.
According to Fox News, Crosby’s daughter-in-law, Maggie Crosby, told The New York Times that the comic died of heart failure in Los Angeles on Saturday (local time).
Early in his career, Crosby had realised he needed a gimmick to differentiate himself from the flourishing generation of comedians who were achieving fame on the many network TV variety shows.
He told an interviewer in 1989, “I was looking around for fresh ideas, and I kept hearing people misuse words. So I started to use it in my act.”
He called the famed baby doctor Benjamin Spock ‘Dr Spook.’ With straight-faced sincerity, he said people “should have an apathy for one another; they should have rappaport for each other.” Today’s kids, he said, “gotta cut that umbrella cord and split.”
As reported by Fox News, Crosby’s first steady work as a comic came at Blinstrub’s in his native Boston, which led to an engagement in the early 1960s at the prestigious Latin Quarter in New York.
In his widely read newspaper column, Walter Winchell gave the comedian a rave and offers from Johnny Carson and other TV shows and club dates poured in. He also became a favourite at the major Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos and played theatres, including many times at
London’s Palladium, and concert halls. He was a regular guest on Dean Martin’s celebrity roasts.
Starting in 1978, he starred in a syndicated TV show, ‘Norm Crosby’s Comedy Shop’. He served as co-host with Jerry Lewis on the Labour Day weekend telethon for muscular dystrophy.
As a public performer, Crosby thrived despite having poor hearing. During World War II, he served aboard a Coast Guard submarine chaser, and concussion from the depth charges damaged his ears. He wore a hearing aid onstage.
He explained in a 1993 interview, “I was never shy about my hearing loss, probably because I got it from military service. I got thousands of letters from people who had said they would never get a hearing aid but had changed their minds after they saw me being open about it.”
Crosby was a long-time spokesman for the Better Hearing Institute and hosted an annual golf benefit for the cause. In 2009, he was among those honoured by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which raised funds to distribute hearing aids to children in need.
Norman Lawrence Crosby was born in Boston in 1927. “Like most comedians, I was the funny kid in the family and in the neighbourhood. I was always told I should entertain,” he had said.
Crosby married Joan Crane Foley in 1966. They had two children.