Paul Sills, a founding father of the legendary Second City improv comedy group, has died at the age of 80 from complications of pneumonia.
The troupe, which has turned out some of America’s best-known comedians, said in a statement on its Web site Monday that “the influence of Paul Sills on the American Theatre can not be exaggerated.”
Sills helped found the comedy institution in 1959, along with its precursor “The Compass Players.” Second City helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Stephen Colbert and Mike Myers.
Often thought of as the minor leagues for more popular comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, Second City has earned its place in the comedy world. For nearly 50 years this organization has yet to see a year that according to Sills “somebody coming out of (Second City) hasn’t achieved major stardom.”
That is an impressive track record.
We tip our hats and bow our heads to the passing of this legend that is described as “the most influential person in the theater that general people don’t know about.”