Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
His routines took the form of stories, skits, and commentary, often venturing into subject areas considered profane, obscene and otherwise controversial. His penchant for material with high shock value caused his career to be plagued by constant trouble with the law. His obscenity trials are now considered to be significant benchmarks in the case for preservation of First Amendment freedoms.
Lenny's early career including writing the screenplays for "Dance Hall Racket" 1953 (which featured Lenny and his wife, Honey Harlow , in roles); "Dream Follies" 1954, a low-budget burlesque romp; and a children's film, "The Rocket Man" 1954.
Trials and Tribulations
In 1961 Lenny was arrested for obscenity at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, California. Although the jury acquitted him, other communities began monitoring his appearances, resulting in frequent arrests under charges of obscenity.
By the end of 1963, he had become a target of the Manhattan district attorney, Frank Hogan , who was working closely with Francis Cardinal Spellman. In 1964, he appeared at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. Undercover police detectives witnessed the show. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested. In a widely-publicized case, he was convicted after a six-month-long trial, in spite of positive testimony and petitions of support from Jules Feiffer, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin as well as Manhattan socialite Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans . His case was appealed, and he was never to serve his four-month sentence.
In his later performances, Bruce was known for relating the details of his encounters with the police directly in his comedy routine; his criticism encouraged the police to eye him with maximum scrutiny. These performances often included rants about his court battles over obscenity charges, tirades against fascism and complaints of his denial of his right to free speech.
He was banned outright from several U.S. cities, and in 1962 was banned from performing in Australia. By 1966 he had been blacklisted by nearly every comedy club in the U.S., as owners feared prosecution for obscenity. His last performance was on June 26, 1966 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, on a bill with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.
At the request of Hugh Hefner, Bruce (with the aid of Paul Krassner) wrote his autobiography, which was serialized in Playboy in 1964 and 1965, and later published as the book How to Talk Dirty and Influence People .
in 1966 Lenny Bruce was found dead from a self-administered morphine overdose, in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home. He is interred in the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.
He is survived by his daughter Kitty Bruce , who now resides in Pennsylvania.
In 1971 one of his comedy routines was developed into a short animated film, Thank You Masked Man (often cited as "Thank You, Mask Man") which parodied The Lone Ranger. Bruce received credit for co-writing and co-directing this seven minute cartoon and providing his unique narration which included all of the voice characterizations.
The 1974 film Lenny, starring Dustin Hoffman, presents a dramatized account of Bruce's life. Eddie Izzard portrayed the comedian in the 1991 stage show Lenny. Similarly, the comedian inspired songs by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Nico, Chumbawamba, and R.E.M.
- Lenny Bruce - kirjasto.sci.fi
- The Lenny Bruce FBI File
- Lenny Bruce - Ubqtous.com
- The Complete Lenny Bruce
- The Trials of Lenny Bruce
- Lenny Bruce: Swear To Tell the Truth, Sundance Channel's summary of the documentary
- Background on Swear To Tell the Truth, from its writer/director, who was separately interviewed about the project
- The Lenny Bruce Trial
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