- Category : Entertainment-Comedy
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Small (10,14,16,20)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Clarion 2
American satirical nightclub comedian, known for biting and controversial subject matter, who changed the landscape of standup comedy and cleared the way for Richard Pryor, George Carlin and others. He wrote a largely fictionalized autobiography, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People" in 1963. At one time he was married to a stripper and drug user, with whom he had one daughter before divorcing. He died of a heroin overdose on 8/03/1966 in Hollywood, CA.
Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider and was influenced by an eccentric mother who was a dance teacher-turned-comedian. She had divorced his father, a podiatrist, when Bruce was still young. She introduced her son to the entertainment world by taking him to a Times Square burlesque show when he was 12.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 but got a discharge by dressing in drag. In 1948, he got his first big break on "Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts" where his skills earned him bookings at small clubs. After he married stripper Harriet Lloyd in 1951, he began working in Los Angeles strip joints. He and Harriet had one daughter, Kitty, born in 1955. They divorced in 1957 and Bruce won legal custody of his daughter, but spent little time with her.
In 1959, Bruce was given a shot at major television when he appeared on the Steve Allen show. He was billed as "King of the Sick Comics," and started selling out at nightclubs, recording albums and watching his notoriety grow. Bruce was famous for Catholic jokes and bathroom humor that he frequently had to defend in courtrooms.
In 1961, Lenny was arrested in Philadelphia for narcotic possession. He denounced law officials, implying bribes, which many think was why he was arrested five days later for using obscene language during a San Francisco appearance. A jury acquitted him, but he started getting arrested in nearly every city where he performed. The worst of his problems came during a 1964 appearance at New York City’s Café Au Go Go, when both he and the club owner were arrested.
He had beaten obscenity charges in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and was appealing one in Chicago when he went on trial in New York. Though many well-known names (Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer) compared him to other satirists like Mark Twain, he was convicted of obscenity 11/04/1964 and sentenced to four months in jail. He was dead of a heroin overdose (8/03/1966 in Hollywood) before the New York conviction was decided. On December 23, 2003, the comedian was granted a posthumous pardon by NY Governor George Pataki; this is the first poshumous pardon in New York state history. Pataki called his decision "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment. "