Charlie Callas

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Charlie Callas
Callas-Charlie.jpg
Callas in 1956
Birth nameCharles Callias
Born(1927-12-20)December 20, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 27, 2011(2011-01-27) (aged 83)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
GenresStand-Up, Dark Comedy
InfluencesGroucho Marx,
Charlie Chaplin
InfluencedLarry the Cable Guy
SpouseEvelyn Callas
(? – 2010; her death; 2 children)
 
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Charlie Callas
Callas-Charlie.jpg
Callas in 1956
Birth nameCharles Callias
Born(1927-12-20)December 20, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 27, 2011(2011-01-27) (aged 83)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
GenresStand-Up, Dark Comedy
InfluencesGroucho Marx,
Charlie Chaplin
InfluencedLarry the Cable Guy
SpouseEvelyn Callas
(? – 2010; her death; 2 children)

Charlie Callas (December 20, 1927 – January 27, 2011) was an American comedian and actor most commonly known for his work with Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin and his many stand-up appearances on television talk shows in the 1970s. He was also known for his role as Malcolm Argos, the restaurant owner and former con man, on the Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner television series Switch.

Tony Belmont, executive director of the National Comedy Hall of Fame in St. Petersburg, Florida, said of Callas: "There were two things he could do that made his career, He could think very fast on his feet, and he had an unbelievable number of sounds that he made with his voice. He would tell a joke about two guys hunting. If you or I told it, the joke wasn't so funny. But Charlie made it hysterical by sticking in these sounds; so you would hear the gun cocking, the duck flying overhead, the explosion of the shotgun and then the duck falling and screaming all the way to the ground."[1]

Life and career[edit]

Callas was born in Brooklyn, New York, as Charles Callias and served in the United States Army during World War II. He began his career as a drummer playing in groups with Bernie Cummins,[2] Tommy Dorsey, Claude Thornhill, and Buddy Rich.[3] He dropped a vowel from his legal name, Callias, when he took to the stage.

Callas was known for his rubbery face, trademark nervous chattering, and dark comedy. His first television appearance was in 1963 on The Hollywood Palace, and he soon was opening for Frank Sinatra in nightclubs around the country. In 1965 he played Lefty in a gambling parlor/laundry in The Munsters, season 2, episode 16, "Herman Picks a Winner." He made nearly 50 appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Appearing on an episode of The Merv Griffin Show in 1965, one of the guests, Jerry Lewis, practically fell off his chair in hysterics as Callas performed his hunting routine. Lewis turned to Griffin and said he had to use Callas in his current project. That one appearance on the Griffin show landed Callas a role in the 1967 Lewis film The Big Mouth. Lewis recalled the story on his short-lived 1984 talk show, in which Callas served as his sidekick and performed the hunting routine.[3]

He also appeared on The Andy Williams Show at various times as "Captain Weird", a parody of superheroes. Callas's only known dramatic role was that of a restaurant owner, Malcolm Argos, in the 1970s show, Switch. He was also a regular performer on The ABC Comedy Hour in 1972.[3] He was a semiregular on The Flip Wilson Show and co-host of the The Joey Bishop Show. His last television appearances were on Larry The Cable Guy's Christmas Spectacular (2007) and Larry The Cable Guy's Star-Studded Christmas Extravaganza (2008).[citation needed]

Death[edit]

Charlie Callas died on January 27, 2011, from natural causes, aged 83, in his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is survived by his sons, Mark and Larry. His wife, Evelyn, died six months previously at age 80. Callas's remains were cremated.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The New York Times obituary, January 29, 2011, p. D8.
  2. ^ Walker, Leo (1989). The Big Band Almanac. Da Capo Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-306-80345-1. 
  3. ^ a b c Hevesi, Dennis (January 28, 2011). "Charlie Callas, Zany Comedian, Dies". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]