Comedy legend Shecky Greene dead at 97

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Comedy legend Shecky Greene died at age 97.

Howard Rapp, Greene's longtime manager, confirmed the news in a statement to Fox News Digital, writing: “Shecky Greene passed away today. (He was) one of the GREATEST entertainers who made people laugh all the time. ”

Rapp went on to recall the early days of Greene's career. “I met him when I was 17 and he was working for my uncle, Charlie Rapp in the Catskills. Shecky left the business for 7 years and could no longer perform on stage. After seven years off stage, he made his return to Kutsher.Hotel in The Catskills, where (he) started. From there, he worked all of his old venues and the new ones where he developed a new audience.

He concluded: “I spoke to him last week and we had a BIG DISCUSSION about everything from politics to comedy. He ended by singing to me a made up song about origins and adding a name to it,” adding with insistence “Everyone will miss Shecky Greene.” “.

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Shecky Greene, along with his wife Marie Musso Greene, died on December 31 at the age of 97 of natural causes. (Denise Truscello/WireImage)

Greene's widow, Marie Musso Greene, also confirmed to Las Vegas Review Journal that Greene died at 3:21 a.m. Sunday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes.

Musso Greene said there would be no celebration of Greene's life, per his wishes.

She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that being married to the comedian for 41 years “was fun. He always did humor with whatever he could. He made you laugh and made you feel good. It was a happy moment.”

Greene was best known for his decades of comedy performances in Las Vegas and his frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Born Fred Sheldon Greenfield in Chicago in 1926, Greene's Las Vegas career began when he played in the same band as singer Dorothy Shay at the new Frontier Casino.

In this same hotel, Greene met a young Elvis Presley.

He told the LA Times in 2005: “I didn’t even know who Elvis Presley was. The kid should never have been in there. He came out wearing a baseball jacket. Four or five musicians behind him wore baseball jackets. like a picnic. After the first show, they changed the billing and I headlined. “

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Split screen Shecky Greene with Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley opened for Shecky Greene early in his career (Getty Images)

Greene also became a member of the Rat Pack's extended circle, opening for Frank Sinatra, with whom he admitted to having a “love/hate” relationship.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Greene said: “He loved me and we hated each other. I didn't love him. I'm far from loving him. But I (expletive) respected him for who he was .”

He also often told the story of being rescued by Sinatra after some of his associates got into a fight with the comedian.

“Frank Sinatra saved my life. Five guys were beating me and Frank said, 'Okay, he's had enough,'” Greene told Carson, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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Split screen Shecky Greene with Frank Sinatra

Greene said he had a controversial relationship with Frank Sinatra (Getty Images)

Greene's name became synonymous with comedy, but despite his natural stage presence and performances, he struggled with stage fright and mental health.

He told the Review-Journal in 2009: “I was manic-depressive. Then I developed panic attacks and worked with people who never knew it. “

The comedy legend also struggled with alcoholism, which led to an infamous incident in 1968, when he crashed his Oldsmobile into the fountains outside Caesars Palace in 1968. Las Vegas. As water spilled all over the car, police approached, prompting Greene to roll down the windows and call out, “No spray wax?”

Shecky Greene and Johnny Carson on the set of The Tonight Show

Greene was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” where he also recounted the Caesars Palace incident. (Paul W. Bailey/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

He spoke about the accident in the Los Angeles Times Magazine in 2005, saying, “I had a bad habit when I was drunk, and I think it must have been a death wish: to get in my car and just to drive. I drove 90 miles an hour on the Strip – which is no longer possible today, given the crowds on the Strip – and hit this detachable lamp at the entrance to Caesars. She crossed Las Vegas Boulevard and I crossed the sidewalk. “and in the water. The cops came and I left. I told Buddy Hackett about it. He gave me the line about the spray wax, and I put it into my act.”

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Shecky Greene smiling on the red carpet

Greene also appeared in film and television and concluded his legendary career in Las Vegas in 2011. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Besides acting, Greene has also appeared in several films, including “World History: Part One” “Splash” and “Tony Rome,” as well as TV series like “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “The A-Team.”

After decades of working in Las Vegas, Greene delivered her final performances in 2011.

Greene is survived by his wife, Musso Greene, and his children.

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