DEAD: Lenny Bruce

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Lenny Bruce (aged 40)
American comedian, activist and social critic

Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was renowned for his open, free-style and critical form of comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in the history of New York state, by then-Governor George Pataki in 2003.

DEATH: On August 3, 1966, a bearded Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home at 8825 W. Hollywood Blvd. The official photo, taken at the scene, showed Bruce lying naked on the floor, a syringe and burned bottle cap nearby, along with various other narcotics paraphernalia. Record producer Phil Spector, a friend of Bruce, bought the negatives of the photographs “to keep them from the press”. The official cause of death was “acute morphine poisoning caused by an overdose”.

Bruce’s remains were interred in Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California, but an unconventional memorial on August 21 was controversial enough to keep his name in the spotlight. Over 500 people came to the service to pay their respects, led by Spector. Cemetery officials had tried to block the ceremony after advertisements for the event encouraged attendees to bring box lunches and noisemakers. Dick Schaap eulogized Bruce in Playboy, with the last line: “One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That’s obscene”.

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