Jack Carter: Remembering the American comedian, presenter and actor whose brash style sustained a 50-year career

His success graced the US television as well as stages and films for more than a half a century

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The Independent Online

Jack Carter’s brash, caustic brand of comedy made him a star of early US television and helped him sustain a career of more than a half a century in TV, nightclubs, films and on stage.

In 1950 NBC scheduled two hours of programming called “Saturday Night Revue.” The Jack Carter Show filled the first hour, the comedian opening with a stand-up routine poking fun at the day’s news. From there, the show moved on to music and comedy skits.

The second hour was taken up by Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Their sophisticated comedy became a sensation, and after the first season Carter’s show was cancelled. “Maybe I come on too strong,” he mused in 1963. “Directors and producers fear you when you come on strong. They’re afraid they may not be able to control you.”

The comedian, who had begun as a stage actor, returned to the theatre from time to time. He also played in nightclubs and made nearly three dozen films, including Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, in which he played himself.

Throughout his career, Carter remained the attacker, poking fun at the audience, disparaging politicians and celebrities.  He made numerous appearances on the shows of Ed Sullivan and George Burns and traded gags with Bob Hope in five Hope specials. An adept ad-libber, he was a late-night talk-show regular and acted in dozens of episodic series including Dr Kildare, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hawaii Five-O, Murder, She Wrote and Baywatch.

In 1956 he starred on Broadway with Sammy Davis Jr in the musical Mr Wonderful, and toured in shows like Guys and Dolls, The Odd Couple and as Fagin in Oliver.

Jack Chakrin (Jack Carter), comedian: born New York 24 June 1922; twice married (four children); died Beverly Hills 28 June 2015.