Angry comedian Pat Cooper dies at 93

Pat Cooper, the brash Italian-American stand-up from Brooklyn whose real and imagined anger fueled a long career in comedy, has died. He was 93 years old.

Cooper died Tuesday night at his Las Vegas home, his wife, Emily Conner, announced.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

A mainstay of nightclubs from Atlantic City to Las Vegas, Cooper opened for Ginger Rogers at the Desert Inn and Frank Sinatra at the Sands. He said he once refused to make a joke about an upside-down St. Anthony statue that Sinatra wanted to excise and never worked with the singer again.

Also known for his nonstop, rapid-fire delivery, Cooper appeared as himself on the 1996 Seinfeld episode “The Friars Club” – he participated in numerous roasts at this famous comedy establishment in midtown Manhattan – and made regular appearances on late-night talk shows, for Ed Sullivan and, beginning in the 1980s , on Howard Stern’s radio show.

The bespectacled comedian played consigliere Salvatore Masiello in Analyze it (1999) and its 2002 follow-up, Analyze it (2002) but says he turned down Martin Scorsese’s invitation to appear in Casino (1995), saying he was “a name performer” who deserved more than three lines of dialogue.

In his 2011 memoir, How dare you say, how dare me! : an autobiography of a life in comedyCooper wrote that he never appeared on The show tonight after a drunk Johnny Carson accidentally urinated on him in a New York nightclub restroom in the early 1970s. This story was told in the chapter titled “I’d Rather Be Pissed Than Pissed”.

“I’m half a name,” he told the New York Observer in 1999. “I am not a Rodney Dangerfield. I am not a Bob Hope. I am a constant performer. I pack the rooms. But I’m happier than Rodney will ever be.

He was born Pasquale Caputo on July 31, 1929 and grew up in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. His father was a mason, and for a time Cooper was too. He also worked as a stevedore.

He appeared on the Fox Amateur Hour radio show as a youth, made impressions and won the top prize, but his parents were unimpressed.

“I come from a family that didn’t understand [show business]he told Kliph Nesteroff in a 2011 interview for the Classic Television Showbiz blog. “Unless you sang opera, you were nothing. If you sang out of tune, you were another Caruso. If you said something funny at the table, you were messy, you were upset, and your old [would want to] throw you out the window.

After being drafted and serving in the United States Army, Cooper was appearing in low-level nightclubs when he was spotted by an agent, Willie Webber. He swore to get Cooper on Jackie Gleason’s TV show, and sure enough, he arrived a few months later.

It was 1963. Almost overnight Cooper was playing in Vegas, Reno and top notch clubs like the Copacabana in New York.

In 1965 Cooper had success with the comedy album our hero – (Billboard said it is “doing for the Italian-American community what Jackie Mason did for the American Jewish community”) – followed a year later by Spaghetti sauce and other delicacies. The first cover of the LP showed him lying in a large sandwich, the second had him covered in red sauce.

He toured frequently with Italian-born tenor Sergio Franchi before the singer died of a brain tumor in 1990.

Cooper frequently complained that dinner mates like Jerry Vale, Joe DiMaggio, Rocky Marciano and Mickey Mantle never got a check. “It bothered me,” he told Nesteroff. How dare you think I have to turn around and buy your food! You are millionaires! You are bigger stars, and they would come to the Copa and never pay!”

Cooper was married and divorced from his first wife, Dolores, then married singer Patti Prince in 1964. He adopted his daughter, Patti Jo, before Prince died in 2005 at age 69. He married Conner in 2018.

Cooper spent years estranged from two children from his first marriage. His daughter, Louise, and his ex-wife once called Stern’s radio show to talk to him, and his son, Michael, in 2009 published a book, Dear Pat Cooper, about his sour relationship with his father.

Michael wrote: “He hated us with every fiber of his being, and I never understood why. What did one of us do to get my dad to stay away from the whole family and go find a new one? »

In addition to his three children and wife, survivors include his sisters, Grace, Carol and Marie, and five grandchildren. Donations in his name can be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children or the Neon Museum Las Vegas.

The best of The Hollywood Reporter

Click here to read the full article.

Leave a Comment