Shawn, Dick

SKU: PH322


Dick Shawn (December 1, 1923 – April 17, 1987) was an American actor and comedian.  Inscribed Photograph, n.d. - 8 x 10 B/W written in blue ink pen with light fading around edged.  Overall, fine condition. 

Shawn was born as Richard Schulefand in Buffalo, New York and raised in adjacent Lackawanna. The best known roles of his career were that of the hot-headed Sylvester Marcus, son of Mrs. Marcus (Ethel Merman), in Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and easygoing Lorenzo St. DuBois/Adolf Hitler in the musical Springtime for Hitler, the play within Mel Brooks's movie The Producers.

According to his IMDb page, Shawn "was supposedly the first person to execute the icon "The High Five", in the movie. It was during the play in the movie, the character of Hitler played by Shawn sent for Goebbels who was played by David Patch, and instead of putting his hand in front of for the "give me five", Shawn held it up and Patch slapped it. Though it would not become popular till many years later." He also provided the Snow Miser’s voice in The Year Without a Santa Claus. 

He had continued success with his stand-up comedy act that he successfully performed for over 35 years in nightclubs around the world. His award-winning one-man stage show, The Second Greatest Entertainer in the Whole Wide World, was sometimes performed with a unique opening. When the audience entered the theater, they saw a bare stage with a pile of bricks in stage center. When the play began, Shawn emerged from the pile of bricks. The startling effect of this required complete concentration and breath control because the slightest movement of the bricks could ruin the surprise appearance. 

On April 17, 1987, Shawn died while performing at UC San Diego's Mandeville Hall. When he collapsed face down on the stage, the audience thought it was part of his act unaware that he had actually suffered a massive heart attack. During his final comedy routine, Shawn portrayed a politician reciting campaign clichés including: "If elected, I will not lay down on the job."