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Jackie Mason

Jackie Mason
Mason in 2006
Birth name Yacov Moshe Maza
Born (1931-06-09) June 9, 1931 [1]
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S.
Medium Stand-up
Nationality American
Years active 1961–present
Genres Political satire
Observational comedy
Improvisational comedy
Subject(s) American politics
International relations
Current events
Race relations
Jewish culture
American culture
Spouse Jyll Rosenfeld (August 14, 1991–present)

Jackie Mason (born June 9, 1931)[1][2] is an American stand-up comedian and film and television actor. He is ranked #63 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all-time.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
    • Sheba Mason 3.1
  • Controversy 4
    • "Middle finger" incident 4.1
    • Use of the term "schvartze" 4.2
    • Statements on Palestinians 4.3
    • Suzuki-McCullen altercation 4.4
  • Jews for Jesus lawsuit 5
  • One Jerusalem 6
  • Works 7
    • Selected TV, film and radio roles 7.1
    • Television specials 7.2
    • Discography 7.3
    • One-man shows 7.4
    • Writings 7.5
    • Video blogging 7.6
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City.

Mason graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York. At age 25, he received semikhah from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and was ordained a rabbi (as his three brothers, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been), in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.[4] Three years later, he resigned from his job in a synagogue to become a comedian because, he says, "Somebody in the family had to make a living."[5]


Mason was a comedian at the Fieldston Hotel in Swan Lake, New York in the summer of 1955. He was let go because his act was considered too far ahead of its time. The patrons had never been exposed to a comic who seemed to be ridiculing them. A few years later, Don Rickles came along, but by then audiences had become open to this type of humor throughout the borscht belt.

Mason made several appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show during the 1960s, claiming to have been on the first episode to feature the American television debut of The Beatles, although research does not bear this fact out.[6] Mason revealed during his appearance on the BBC show Desert Island Discs that at the time he did not think much of the group, referring to them as "four kids in search of a voice who needed haircuts".

In 1969, Mason made his Broadway theater debut in the comedy play A Teaspoon Every Four Hours, which he wrote with Mike Mortman. It held the Broadway record of 97 previews and closed after its official opening performance (a preview record only succeeded by Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark with its 182 previews prior to opening). In 1986, Mason made a triumphant return to Broadway in The World According to Me, his first of several one-man theatrical shows, and was well received both by critics and the public. One of these shows, Politically Incorrect at Broadway's John Golden Theater ran into trademark problems because it was performed at the same time that Bill Maher's TV show Politically Incorrect was on the air. Maher brought a lawsuit against Mason's production, which was dismissed as frivolous. Mason was able to use this show title, and it is one of his most successful road productions. Between these shows, Mason played the lead in a short-lived television sitcom called Chicken Soup alongside Lynn Redgrave.

In 1992, Mason won an Emmy Award for his voice-over of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons episode "Like Father, Like Clown",[7] making him the first guest star to win an Emmy for his role. Mason has also appeared in The Simpsons episodes "Today I Am a Clown," "Once Upon a Time in Springfield," "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution," "At Long Last Leave," and "Clown in the Dumps;" the latter episode focuses upon Rabbi Krustofski's death and its effects on his son, Krusty the Clown.

In a 2005 poll to find the Comedian's Comedian, Mason was voted among the top-50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was also ranked #63 in Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.[8] He holds the record for the longest-running one-man show in the history of both Broadway and London's West End.

His full-length motion picture One Angry Man was released in 2010 throughout the US and Canada. Mason's latest film Jackie Goldberg: Private Dick was a direct-to-DVD release, released by FilmWorks Entertainment.

Personal life

On August 14, 1991, Mason married Jyll Rosenfeld.[9] Mason was a Democrat but is now a registered Republican.[10]

Sheba Mason

Sheba Mason is the daughter of Jackie Mason. She is also a comedian.[11][12][13][14]


1968 ad for the Jackie Mason Show

"Middle finger" incident

On October 18, 1964 in an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Mason allegedly gave host Ed Sullivan the finger on air. Footage of the incident shows Mason doing his stand-up comedy act and then looking toward Sullivan, commenting that Sullivan was signaling him. Sullivan was reportedly letting Mason know (by pointing two fingers) that he had only a couple minutes left, as the program was about to cut away to show a speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Mason began working his own fingers in his act to make fun of the situation and pointed toward Sullivan with his middle finger slightly separated. Sullivan was clearly angered by this and banned Mason from the show. Mason denied knowingly giving Sullivan the middle finger; he later claimed that he had never even heard of the middle finger gesture at that time. In retaliation, to protect the perceived threat to his career, Mason filed a libel suit at the New York Supreme Court, which he won.[15]

Mason made a comeback appearance on the TV program two years later; and, Sullivan publicly apologized to him. At that time, Mason opened his monologue by saying, "It is a great thrill...and a fantastic opportunity to see me in person again." Mason would never appear on the show again.

Use of the term "schvartze"

In 1991, Mason was criticized by NAACP when he called New York mayor David Dinkins "a fancy schvartze with a moustache."[16] He later apologized.

Statements on Palestinians

Mason, in 2003, counseled Israeli leaders to consider the total expulsion of Palestinians from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.[17] Mason and Raoul Felder wrote, "We have paralyzed ourselves by our sickening fear of World Opinion, which is why we find it impossible to face one simple fact: We will never win this war unless we immediately threaten to drive every Arab out of Israel if the killing doesn't stop."[17] They added:

Suzuki-McCullen altercation

On March 30, 2012, Mason was in an altercation with a friend at the time, Kaoru Suzuki-McCullen. Mason claimed that, while making her exit from his apartment (where Mason and his wife Jyll Rosenfeld live) on West 57th street in New York, Suzuki-McCullen attacked him. When the police arrived, Suzuki-McCullen claimed that she was attacked by Mason, but was arrested, with the police declining to arrest Mason.[18] On May 12, 2012, all charges were dropped against Suzuki-McCullen when both sides agreed to drop the matter.[19]

Jews for Jesus lawsuit

On August 28, 2006, Mason filed a lawsuit against the group Jews for Jesus for using his likeness in a pamphlet.[20] His image was used next to the tag line "Jackie Mason...a Jew for Jesus!?" Mason said in court papers filed in New York:

Mason has claimed that the group was using his image and fame to gain attention and converts. The group responded to the suit by saying, "Shame on him for getting so upset about this."[20] The lawsuit was settled in 2006, with Jews for Jesus apologizing.[21]

One Jerusalem

In January 2001, Mason co-founded the organization One Jerusalem in response to the Oslo peace agreement. Its stated cause is "Maintaining a united Jerusalem as the un-divided capital of Israel."[22]


Selected TV, film and radio roles

Television specials

  • Jackie Mason's The World According to Me! (1988)
  • An Audience with Jackie Mason (1990)
  • Jackie Mason on Campus (1992)
  • Jackie Mason at the London Palladium (1996)
  • Jackie Mason: A Night at the Opera (2002)


  • I'm the Greatest Comedian in the World, Only Nobody Knows it Yet! (1962)
  • I Want to Leave You with the Words of a Great Comedian (1963)
  • The World According to Me! (1987)
  • Brand New (1991)
  • Politically Incorrect (1994)
  • In Israel
  • Live at the London Palladium (1997)
  • All New! Much Ado About Everything (2003)
  • Prune Danish (2002)
  • The Unholy Tour
  • Freshly Squeezed (DVD) (2005)
  • The Ultimate Jew (2008)

One-man shows

  • Jackie Mason's the World According to Me! (1986–1988)
  • Jackie Mason: Brand New (1990–1991)
  • Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect (1994–1995)
  • Love Thy Neighbor (1996–1997)
  • Much Ado About Everything (1999–2000)
  • Jackie Mason: Prune Danish (2002–2003)
  • Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed (2005–2006)
  • Jackie Mason: The Ultimate Jew (2008)
  • Jackie Mason: Fearless (2012)


  • Jackie Mason and Raoul Lionel Felder. Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and the Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad. New York: Collins, 2007. ISBN 978-0061126123

Video blogging

Mason has appeared in over 200 self-written video blog entries on YouTube, in which he gives his opinions on current events and politics. He has also experimented with podcasting, and in February 2012 appeared on the cult British podcast Answer Me This!, to promote his West End stand-up show, Fearless.


  1. ^ a b "Jackie Mason". Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Jackie Mason at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Chris Bergeron (2008-09-20). "Frankie Valli, Jackie Mason to perform in Worcester". Daily News Transcript. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  5. ^ Jackie Mason The Official Site: All About... Retrieved 2014-07-14
  6. ^ Ed Sullivan Show episode guide
  7. ^ Basile, Nancy. (2006) The Simpsons Awards,, Accessed 29 August 2006.
  8. ^ Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Jyll Rosenfeld at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ n/a, n/a. "Jackie Mason at NNDB".  
  11. ^ Schudel, Matt (October 29, 1989). "Jackie`s Little Girl Comic Jackie Mason Looks Like A Harmless Little Man, But His Jilted South Florida Lover Has Another Story To Tell: She`s The Mother Of His Love Child".  
  12. ^ Whetsell, Tripp (April 27, 2012). "Getting In on Jackie's Act".  (subscription required)
  13. ^ Prendergast, Daniel (April 1, 2012). "Jackie Mason’s many loves".  
  14. ^ Beckerman, Gal (January 5, 2011). "Oy! Jackie Mason Has Family Drama".  
  15. ^ Biography for Ed Sullivan at the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ Chadwick, Alan (June 13, 2006). "Metrolife: Jackie Mason".  
  17. ^ a b c Mason, Jackie and Raoul Felder. "Time to Threaten Arabs with Mass Eviction." The Jewish Press. January 29, 2003.
  18. ^ Schram, Jamie (March 30, 2012). "Jackie Mason’s gal pal arrested after home brawl".  
  19. ^ Italiano, Laura (May 14, 2012). "Jackie Mason, gal pal drop assault charges".  
  20. ^ a b "Oy! Jackie Mason sues Jews for Jesus." MSNBC. August 25, 2006.
  21. ^ Anemona Hartcollis (2006-12-06). "To Settle Suit, Jews for Jesus Apologizes to Jackie Mason".  
  22. ^ "About Us." One Jerusalem.

External links

  • Official website
  • Jackie Mason at the Internet Movie Database
  • Radio Interview on Air America
  • Interview (Jackie Mason interview starts at 55:18), Mark Levin Talk Radio Show, 27 June 2008
  • Jackie Mason speaks about gun control on LiveLeak
  • Jackie Mason radio interview WSLR with Doug Miles on YouTube
  • Jackie Mason ANDMagazine Interview
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