Personal info
Known for

Actor

Gender

Male

Date of Birth

1927-12-26

Location

New York, United States

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Alan King

Biography

Alan King (born Irwin Alan Kniberg; December 26, 1927 – May 9, 2004) was an American actor and comedian known for his biting wit and often angry humorous rants. King became well-known as a Jewish comedian and satirist.

 

 He was also a serious actor who appeared in a number of films and television shows. King wrote several books, produced films, and appeared in plays. In his later years, he helped many philanthropic causes.

 

King was born in New York City, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Minnie (née Solomon) and Bernard Kniberg, a handbag cutter. He had one older sister, Anita Kniberg. He spent his first years on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Later, King's family moved to Brooklyn.

 

 King used humor to survive the tough neighborhoods and performed impersonations on street corners for pennies.

 

When he was 14, King performed "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" on the radio program Major Bowes Amateur Hour. He lost first prize but was invited to join a nationwide tour. At 15, King dropped out of high school to perform comedy at the Hotel Gurdas in the Catskill Mountains

 

After one joke that made fun of the hotel's owner, he was fired, but he spent the remainder of that summer and the one that followed as emcee at Forman's New Prospect Hotel in Mountaindale, New York.

 

 He later worked in Canada in a burlesque house while also fighting as a professional boxer; he won 20 straight bouts.

 

 Nursing a broken nose, King decided to quit boxing and focus on comedy. He worked as a doorman at the popular nightclub Leon and Eddie's, while performing comedy under the last name of the boxer who beat him, King.

 

King began his comedy career with one-liner routines and other material concerning mothers-in-law and Jews. His style of comedy changed when he saw Danny Thomas in the early 1950s.

 

 King realized that Thomas was speaking to his audience, not at them, and was getting a better response. King changed his own style from one-liners to a more conversational style that used everyday life for humor.

 

His wife had persuaded the New Yorker to forsake Manhattan for suburban Forest Hills, Queens. In the 1950s, the family and lived in Rockville Centre, New York, and later in Kings Point, Long Island, where he lived for the rest of his life. 

 

There, he developed comedy revolving around life in suburbia. With many Americans moving to the suburbs, King's humor took hold. Like many other Jewish comics, King worked the Catskill circuit known as the Borscht Belt.

 

King married Jeanette Sprung in 1947. They had three children: Andrew, Robert, and Elaine Ray. His wife persuaded him to move to Forest Hills, Queens, for their children. 

 

In the 1950s, his family and lived in Rockville Centre, New York, and later in Kings Point, Long Island, where he lived for the rest of his life.

 

King, who smoked cigars heavily (a fact that came up in his routines from time to time), died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan on May 9, 2004, from lung cancer

 

He was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, Queens. The film Christmas with the Kranks was dedicated to his memory. He is also recognized in the end credits of Rush Hour 3.

Known for
Actor
2001

Rush Hour 2 as Steven Reign