Rick Newman died on February 20 at his home in Los Angeles. He founded New York City’s Catch a Rising Star comedy club, a training ground for stand-up comedians who changed the entertainment scene in the 1970s. He was 81.
The Washington Post heard from his wife, Krysi Newman, that he died of pancreatic cancer.
Among the comics who began or developed their careers on the Rising Star’s Upper East Side stage are Jerry Seineld, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Richard Lewis, Andy Kaufman, Freddie Prinze, Robert Klein, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler. Elayne Boosler, Larry David, Rodney Dangerfield, Joy Behar, Jay Leno, and Ray Romano.
If you are interested in reading more about the deaths of prominent people so far this year, you may do so by perusing our coverage:
- Thomas H. Lee US Billionaire Financier Dies at 78.
- Bethlyn Hand Who Worked for the Motion Picture Association Died at 85.
Richard Belzer, who ran Catch a Rising Star for a long time and died on February 19, just one day before Newman, was one of the artists most associated with the show.
Newman tweeted Billy Crystal, “gave me and so many our starts as stand ups.” Crystal said it was “devastating” that Newman died so soon after Belzer. “2 pillars of my career gone.”
Richard Lewis tweeted –
“You made Catch A Rising Star such a great hang while a generation of comedians were learning their craft.”
“You were beloved.”
Newman opened the club in 1972. Its name, “Catch a Rising Star,” told people what the club was for: it was a place for comedy newcomers who might have had trouble getting booked at the more established Improv club across town.
Four years after the club opened, Seinfeld did his first stand-up show there. Kaufman used the stage to work on his “Foreign Man” character, which later became Taxi’s Latka Gravas.
When the club opened, David Brenner was already a well-known comedian, and he told The New York Times in 1982 (as reported by DEADLINE) –
“You can’t practice on The Tonight Show or in Vegas. Catch is a place where you can be bad, and that’s how you get to be good.”
Newman sold the business to his business partner Richard Fields in 1986, and the original Upper East Side location closed in 1993. Newman is survived by his wife, Krysi, and two kids.