Ed Asner. Mike Nichols. Elaine May. Paul Sills. Del Close. John and Jim Belushi. Golda Radner. George Wendt. John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. The Compass Players. The Playwrights Theater Club. Second City. SCTV. All these people and institutions have one man in common, Bernie Sahlins.
Bernie Sahlins was part scholar, part actor, part comedian, teacher, mentor, impresario, entrepreneur, and innovator. He a direct influence on and was an innovator of improvisational and sketch comedy. He was also known to spot and discover talent. Talent that went places and made it big.
Bernie Sahlins was born in Chicago. He was a graduate of the University of Chicago. His brother, Marshall is an anthropologist at the university. While Bernie Sahlins stayed in Chicago to make his mark, his friends, cohorts, and discoveries went on to become major stars, directors, and producers.
Bernie Sahlins was a legend in Chicago. Chicago legends are prolific and prodigious. They never stop creating, working, and producing their art. The just keep on working, innovating, and creating. Unlike many others, including those around him, he stayed and prospered here. He became famous here. He did not need the bright lights of New York or the camera lights of Hollywood. He left those to the ones he discovered, nurtured, taught, and set loose on the world.
Aside from his creativity, some say wild creativity, Sahlins had a knack and head for business. He knew how to turn a profit while creating entertainment. Second City is world renown as a starting ground and teaching institution for comedians and comedic writers and producers. He started Second City in 1959. Under his aegis it grew, prospered, profited, and was ground zero for the eventual entertainment of millions of people.
Bernie Sahlins died in his home on Sunday. He was 90. He is survived by his wife, Jane Nicholl Sahlins. Services will be private. A memorial will be scheduled in the future.
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