Max and Ida Caesar ran a restaurant, a 24-hour luncheonette. By waiting on tables, their son learned to mimic the patois, rhythm and accents of the diverse clientele, a technique he termed “double-talk,” which he would famously use throughout his career. He first tried his “double-talk” with a group of Italians, his head barely reaching above the table. They enjoyed it so much that they sent him over to a group of Poles to repeat his native-sounding patter in Polish, and so on with Russians, Hungarians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Lithuanians and Bulgarians.
He was the King. Hail to King. Long Live the King. The King of early television comedy.
I was alone with him the bedroom; his mind was alert but his body was failing. He said, almost buoyantly, “I’m ready now.” I sat on the edge of the bed, and another silence fell over us. Then he said, “I wish I could cry. I wish I could cry.”
At first I took this as a comment on his condition, but I am forever thankful that I pushed on. “What do you want to cry about?” I said.
“For all the love I received and couldn’t return.”
I felt a chill of familiarity. There was another lengthy silence as we looked into each other’s eyes. At last he said, “You did everything I wanted to do.”
“I did it for you.” I said. Then we wept for the lost years. I was glad I didn’t say the more complicated truth. “I did it because of you.” [Editor’s emphasis]
You know Steve, actually, you are not exactly correct. It’s even more complicated. You did itbecause of your father —andyou. It’s called Character and Temperament.