#RIP Sammy Shore, co-founder of The Comedy Store, at 92

Sammy Shore, the stand-up comedian who founded The Comedy Store in West Hollywood with his wife Mitzi in 1972 before giving her complete ownership in their divorce two years later, has died. Shore was 92.

He was surrounded by his current wife and family in his home in Las Vegas at the time of his death.

Here’s the obit straight from the Store:

Sammy and his writing partner, Rudy Deluca, founded the world-famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles on April 7, 1972. It would become the premier stand-up comedy club in the world.

Sammy’s almost 70-year career as a stand-up began in the Catskills when he and Shecky Greene were thrown together as a comedy team.  However, when Elvis chose him to open for his comeback at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in 1974, Sammy’s reputation skyrocketed. Over the next seven years, he opened for Elvis’ International Hotel and road shows. Over his storied career, Sammy opened for Tony Orlando, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tom Jones, Ann-Margaret, Connie Stevens, Bobby Darin, and Glen Campbell. It would probably be easier to list those for whom he did not open for; Sammy was their star, and they chose him time and again to open for them. While living in Los Angeles, he was honored to become a member of the famous “Friars Club,” where he would lunch daily with dear friends and comedy legends Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and Red Buttons, as well as participate in their infamous “roasts.” Over the last twenty-years, Sammy was particularly proud to tour and perform with his son, Pauly, the only father/son comedians to do so.

He was voted Best Comedy Act in Atlantic City by the Atlantic City Press, and on July 24, 1990, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors proclaimed that day “Sammy Shore Day.” He also earned the distinction of being the only comedian who worked Harrah’s Casinos and Hotels more than any other entertainer.

Sammy was an accomplished author: “The Warm-Up,” “70 Sucks!” (which he won five Drama Logue Theatre Awards and Critics Choice Award) and “The Man Who Made Elvis Laugh.” Before his death, he was putting the finishing touches on yet another titled, “Last Comic Sitting (Confessions of a Pissed-Off Comic). He recorded several albums: “Brother Sam, Come Heal With Me,” and “70 Sucks, But 80 is Worse,” to name a few.

He also wrote and performed in several one-man shows, appeared in numerous films such as “The Bellboy” with Jerry Lewis and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brooks.  He was a guest on the Tony Orlando and Pointer Sisters’ TV shows, as well as Redd Foxx’s “Sanford and Son.” However, he was most proud of his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, as you had “arrived” if asked to appear on Ed’s show. After moving to Las Vegas, Sammy and Suzanne were appalled by the overwhelming number of abandoned animals. So, they joined with the Nevada SPCA to host fundraisers under the umbrella of “Funny Bones,” which raised monies to pay for critical care for animals who otherwise would not have been adoptable. When Sammy called, every available entertainer donated their time and talent for free; and as a result, rather than being euthanized, countless animals found “forever homes.” Sammy leaves behind his wife of 29 years, Suzanne Dennie Shore, his three dogs: JJ, Tallulah, and Matty, his four children: Scott, Sandi (pre-deceased), Peter and Pauly, as well as two grandchildren: Lola and Caleb. Words can’t express how much his comedic gift, friendship, and beneficence will be missed. The bright light he shone and the laughter he brought into the lives of everyone he touched will never dim. There is only one “Brother Sam”!

Here’s a clip from his 1969 performance on a TV special hosted by Diana Ross and the Supremes:

And five years ago, after surgery, introduced by Tony Orlando, another musical headliner for whom Shore was a regular opener:

And this from son Pauly Shore:

“My parents divorced when I was three years old and even though my mom was the one that raised me, my dad still provided for me the best he could. He came to little league games, holidays, and birthdays. My dad sacrificed a lot of his career for his family even though all he wanted to do was be on the road and tell jokes and be free. When I first decided to do stand up comedy it was my dad that took me to my first gig. It was at a restaurant called The Alley Cat Bistro in Marina Del Rey on Sept 25, 1985. Once I hit it big in the 1990s I took my dad on tour with me all over America doing shows. We toured together for more than 20 years. It was labeled “A Family Affair Tour.” Most of the audience would be like, “Pauly Shore’s dad’s opening for him?” They thought it was some sort of a joke, when they soon realized the joke was on them. My dad killed the crowds night after night. He didn’t just set up the show by doing an amazing job on stage. He also simultaneously let the audience really know who I was, where I came from, and how I wound up the way that I did. Like father like son. Acorn did NOT fall far from the tree. When bringing me on stage he always gave me the most professional and respectful introduction. He would say, “ladies and gentlemen, I’ve opened for Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr, but tonight I’m opening for my favorite entertainer. Please give a round of applause for my son… Pauly Shore.” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” would blare through the speakers, and dad and I would dance around on stage like silly kids. We’d end with a goofy pose. We’d give each other a big hug and kiss. He’d say “Get em Pauly” and I’d say “Give it up for my dad Sammy Shore.” The crowds were very endeared to see a true father and son comedy team on stage, something that’s never happened before. Those 20 years were some of the best times my dad and I ever had in our lives. I’m so happy I was able to experience them with him. Dad, you lived an amazing life and I’m so proud to say that you are my father. When you’re in heaven I’ll be killing the crowds night after night and carrying on your legacy. Love you Dad. Rest in peace. Your son and fellow stand up comic, Love, Pauly”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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