LENNY BRUCE Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » lenny bruce


Name: Lenny Bruce                                                                   
Born: 13 October 1925 Long Island, New York                                         
Died: 3 August 1966 Los Angeles, California                                         
Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925 - August 3, 1966), born Leonard Alfred Schneider,     
was a controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and           
satirist of the 1950s and 1960s. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was       
also controversial, eventually leading to the first posthumous pardon in New         
York history.                                                                       
Leonard Alfred Schneider was born in Mineola, New York, grew up in nearby           
Bellmore and attended Wellington C. Mepham High School. His youth was chaotic,       
his parents divorced when he was five years old and Lenny moved in with various     
relatives over the next decade. His mother, Sally Marr (nee Sadie Kitchenberg),     
was a stage performer who had an enormous influence on Bruce's career. After         
spending time working on a farm with a family that provided the stable               
surroundings he needed, he joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 in 1942, and       
saw active duty in Europe until his discharge in 1946.                               
In 1947, soon after changing his last name to Bruce, he earned $12 and a free       
spaghetti dinner for his first stand-up performance in Brooklyn, New York. From     
that modest start, he got his first break as a guest (and introduced by his         
mother, who called herself "Sally Bruce") on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts     
Show, doing a "Bavarian mimic" of American movie stars (e.g., Humphrey Bogart).     
In 1951, he was arrested in Miami, Florida, for impersonating a priest. He was       
soliciting donations for a leper colony in British Guiana after he legally           
chartered the "Brother Mathias Foundation" (a name of his own invention- but         
possibly taken from the actual Brother Matthias who had befriended Babe Ruth at     
the orphanage that Ruth had been confined to as a child), and, unknown to the       
police, stole several priests' clergy shirts and a clerical collar while posing     
as a laundry man. He was found not guilty due to the legality of the New York       
state-chartered foundation, the actual existence of the Guiana leper colony, and     
the inability of the local clergy to expose him as an impostor. Later in his         
semifictional autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, he revealed     
that he had made approximately $8,000 in three weeks, sending $2,500 to the         
leper colony and keeping the rest.