Irwin Corey, a comedian and actor who billed himself as “The World’s Foremost Authority,” has died at the age of 102, his son Richard has announced.
According to the Pasadena Star News, Corey died in his Manhattan home on February 6 at the age of 102.
The actor and comedian became well known for his long-running act as “The World’s Foremost Authority,” performing in nightclubs and on talk shows.
According to NPR, Corey made a name for himself working with stars such as Jackie Gleason and Woody Allen, and found fans in other celebrities, such as Lenny Bruce and Damon Runyon.
Corey’s act as “the World’s Foremost Authority” featured the comedian portraying himself as an absent-minded professor, showcasing a mix of mock-intellectual jargon and political tirades, satirizing academic authorities.
Irwin’s son Richard announced that his father had passed away and paid tribute to his dad in his obituary. Richard called his father “original and one-of-a-kind, iconic.” He continued, channeling his father’s humor, saying that Irwin “died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his son.”
Corey launched his career with his first regular gig at the Village Vanguard, where he would often open his show with five minutes of nonsensical pantomiming, before finally speaking. The first word he would say was, “However.”
Corey spent the years following performing everywhere from nightclubs to Broadway, to late night talk shows. The actor and comedian’s last appearance was in 2004, when he appeared alongside Eric Stolz, Richard Dreyfuss, and Elizabeth Berkley in ‘Sly Fox.’
Corey was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914. He and his siblings grew up in the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Their mother was forced to put her children in the home after she faced extreme poverty.
According to NPR, Corey’s left-wing beliefs led him to be blacklisted in the 1950’s. He was later found panhandling in the streets of New York City, and later revealed that he collected tens of thousands of dollars, which he donated to a charity that benefitted children in Cuba.
When asked why he panhandled, Corey told a reporter, “I want to help people out.”
Sources: Pasadena Star News, NPR / Photo Credit: Susan Watts/New York Daily News