'60s TV regular Handelman dies at 77


Stanley Myron Handelman, who for decades took his subtle, brainy brand of humor to comedy clubs, TV screens and workshops for aspiring comics, has died. He was 77.

Handelman died of a heart attack Aug. 5 in Mission Community Hospital in the San Fernando Valley, his sister Harriette Kaledin said Wednesday.

Known for his trademark newsboy cap and oversized glasses, Handelman became a TV variety show fixture in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing frequently on "The Tonight Show," "The Ed Sullivan Show," and "The Merv Griffin Show."

His comic observations during his regular appearances as a down-on-his-luck pushcart salesman on "Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers" in 1968 and 1969 brought him additional prominence.

"He was one of the funniest people I ever met," producer and writer Alan Sacks, a longtime friend and occasional collaborator, told the Los Angeles Times. "He always saw the humor in the absurdity of reality."

Handelman was born in New York City's borough of Brooklyn, where his high school classmates voted him "class wit."

He developed his comedy act at New York area clubs in the 1950s, eventually appearing as a frequent opening act for Frank Sinatra.

"He had an offbeat sense of humor," Kaledin said. "He was extremely intelligent."

As Handelman's career as a television comic ebbed in the 1970s, he began teaching standup comedy classes in Los Angeles until his death. Some of them under the moniker "The Flying Handelmans."

Handelman was married and divorced four times. Besides his sister, he is survived by his sons, Paul, Michael, Robert and Daniel, and his daughter Stephanie.