R.I.P. Rick Newman

Just a day after Richard Belzer died, we learned that Rick Newman also has left us.

Newman, the founding owner of Catch A Rising Star and former manager of Pat Benatar, died at the age of 81.

A year ago, when Rick and his wife were deep in health problems and medical bills, Comedy Gives Back launched a fundraiser for them, so far raising more than $55,000.

Newman founded the original Catch in 1972, and HBO celebrated the comedy club’s 10th anniversary with an all-star special hosted by Belz, and featuring David Brenner, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Benatar, Andy Kaufman, Rita Rudner, Gabe Kaplan, and Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra.

You can see some clips in this more recent sit-down between Belz and Newman.

The full thing is a fascinating watch as a time capsule now.

The club eventually had to move from its original location on First Avenue and East 78th Street on the Upper East Side, down to Chelsea on West 28th Street, before closing shop. Meanwhile, Catch A Rising Star became a nationwide chain during the 1980s comedy boom. The Catch in Cambridge, Mass., that was famous in the late 1980s for giving birth to plenty of comedy careers; David Cross, among them. The first stand-up show I went to after turning 21 was the Catch A Rising Star in Princeton, N.J. (Jeff Stilson was headlining).

In his later years, Newman and another partner operated the Triad Theater in the Upper West Side on West 72nd Street.

Newman died Feb. 20 from pancreatic cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He will be sorely missed.

As Allan Havey posted: “A nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who dreamed of being a cowboy comes to the big city and opens an iconic club that changes music and comedy forever. Manager, friend, confidant and widely regarded as the ‘nicest man in show business.’ Well done Rick. Your star will rise forever.”

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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