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Sheldon Keller, a comedy writer who collaborated with Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner on the 1950’s sketch comedy show “Caesar’s Hour” and wrote variety shows for Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and other stars, has died. He was 85.
Keller died Monday of complications from Alzheimer’s at his home in Valencia, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, his son Casey said.
“He was on one of the greatest shows on television,” Casey Keller said of “Caesar’s Hour.” “It created a huge reputation for him that lasted for many years.”
A son of Polish immigrants who grew up in Chicago, Keller moved to New York in the early 1950s to pursue a career in comedy. He found success in 1955 when he joined the renowned writing staff who worked on Sid Caesar’s television show, which was a spinoff the popular program “Your Show of Shows.”
Keller was the inspiration for the character Milton in the Broadway play, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” based on Simon’s time working on the shows, his son said.
He also wrote variety shows for Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, Dinah Shore and won an Emmy in 1966 for his writing on a variety show titled “An Evening With Carol Channing.”
Keller also had a successful career as a composer and songwriter and performed in a jazz band with actors George Segal and Conrad Janis.
Besides his son, Keller is survived by daughter Jamie Keller and three grandchildren.
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