Imogene Coca

Imogene Coca


Imogene Coca
TV: South side of the 6200 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Imogene Fernandez de Coca on Nov. 18, 1908 in Philadelphia, PA
Died June 2, 2001 in Westport, CT

Imogene Coca, known as a versatile comedian, starred with Sid Caesar in the legendary television hit "Your Show of Shows."

Their live 90-minute show, which ran on NBC from February 1950 to June 1954, became a Saturday night ritual, drawing what was then a huge audience — 14 million viewers.

With writing by such comedic masters as Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Lucille Kallen and Neil Simon, the show's regular cast performed sketches, skits and pantomimes. A corps of dancers, singers and guest stars gave the program a broader, variety-show feel, but it was the show's comic genius that drew in the viewers.

At 15 she left Philadelphia for work in New York, appearing as a dancer. Her New York debut as a chorus girl was in the show "When You Smile."

For the next three decades, Coca appeared in revue after revue doing musical numbers and then performing her own act in such noted Manhattan clubs as the Rainbow Room, the Silver Slipper and Cafe Society Uptown.

In 1949, producer Max Leibman, who had worked with Caesar and Coca in the Catskills and Florida, paired them in a short-lived variety series, "Admiral Broadway Revue." The next year the duo returned in "Your Show of Shows." Coca won an Emmy in 1951 for her work.

In later years she would also turn up as a regular guest on the Dick Cavett talk show and on "The Carol Burnett Show."

She was also a popular influence on a new generation of comedians—Burnett and Lily Tomlin would cite her as an influence in their work.

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