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- Lenny Bruce
- Comedian, Social Commentator, Satirist
- Pardoned in 2003 for 1964 Obscenity Conviction
The arrest of Lenny Bruce:
He died of a heroin overdose at the age of forty, but this comedian-satirist's rap sheet was not primarily for drug possession. Rather, it was for obscenity.
Few knew it at the time that Lenny Bruce's act was groundbreaking, setting the stage for the counter-culture comedians to follow. The list of those comedians he influenced is like a who's who of comedy…
…George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, John Stewart, John Belushi, and Joan Rivers, to name just a few.
Long Island born Lenny was influenced by his stage performing mother…who'd divorced Lenny's father when Leonard Alfred Schneider was just a boy.
Lenny's marriage to stripper Honey Harlow…
…led him to polish his groundbreaking comedy material in strip clubs, where they had a dual act.
But he did have his problems with the law, including a 1961 arrest in San Francisco for obscenity for his on stage language.
Lenny was arrested later that year in Philadelphia for drug possession.
In 1964, in New York's Greenwich Village, Bruce and the owner of Café Au Go were arrested after Lenny used various obscenities in his act.
He was convicted in an obscenity trial that year, but was granted the first posthumous pardon in New York State History by then Governor George Pataki in 2003.
For the full story of Lenny Bruce's life and death, click his highlighted name in this sentence.