Will Jordan (1927 - 2018)

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Summary

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Will Jordan (born William Rauch, July 27, 1927 – September 6, 2018) was an American character actor and stand-up comedian best known for his resemblance—and ability to do uncanny impressions of—television host and newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan. Jordan was a friend of and early influence on comedian Lenny Bruce.
Early life
Born in the Bronx, Rauch grew up in Flushing, Queens. His father was a pharmacist and his mother owned a hat store. Jordan graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan.
Career
Sullivan had almost no mannerisms, which made him hard to impersonate. According to Jordan, he invented some funny mannerisms that Sullivan never had, like cracking his knuckles, spinning, and shaking back and forth. Jordan's early appearances mimicking Ed came on The Ed Sullivan Show. In his act, Jordan came up with the catch-phrase, "Welcome to our Toast of the Town 'Shoooo'", which became a stereotypical joke for nearly every Sullivan impersonator after that, usually as the more generic "Really Big 'Shoooo'" (or "shoe").
In virtually all of his film appearances since the 1970s, Jordan portrayed Sullivan in films that feature characters appearing on Sullivan's famous variety series such as I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which depicted the Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.[4] Sullivan died in 1974. In 1983, Jordan appeared as Sullivan in the elaborately produced 60s-TV-style video for "Tell Her About It", the Billy Joel hit single.
Jordan impersonated Sullivan in the 2003 film Down with Love. Jordan appeared as Sullivan in the Broadway revival of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, which ran from October 15, 2009, through January 24, 2010. Jordan appeared in the original Broadway production in 1960-1961. He also participated in a recording project, called "The Sicknicks", with Sandy Baron. The pair produced a comedy single, "The Presidential Press Conference", which was a minor hit in 1961.

Jordan's other impressions included Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx and Jack Benny.[5] He imitated Peter Lorre and James Mason as one of the actors in "Psycho Drama" on Rupert Holmes's 1974 debut album Widescreen.
Personal life and death
Jordan had a son, Lonnie Saunders.
On September 6, 2018, writer Mark Evanier announced that Will Jordan had died at the age of 91 that morning.

Will Jordan Biography & Family History

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Birth

in Bronx, New York United States

Death

on in New York, New York United States
Cause of death: old age

Cause of death

old age

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Education

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Gender

Male

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Timeline

1927 - In the year that Will Jordan was born, in September, the Columbia Broadcasting System (later called CBS) became the second national radio network in the U.S. The first broadcast was a presentation by the Howard Barlow Orchestra from radio station WOR in Newark, New Jersey.

1937 - By the time he was just 10 years old, on May 28th, the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge opened to cars. Taking 5 years to build, the 4,200-foot-long suspension bridge was an engineering marvel of its time - 11 men died during construction. The "international orange" color was chosen because it resisted rust and fading. To the present, it is the symbol of the City that is known throughout the world.

1962 - Will was 35 years old when lasting from October 16th - 28th, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest that the United States and the Soviet Union came to nuclear war. The Soviet Union had been installing a nuclear missile base in Cuba. The United States established a blockade to stop the base from being completed. Through secret negotiations, war was averted: the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle their weapons in Cuba and the United States agreed to never invade Cuba and to dismantle weapons in Turkey and Italy.

1965 - At the age of 38 years old, Will was alive when the television show "I Spy" premiered in the fall season on NBC. The stars were Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, making Cosby the first African American to headline a television show. Four stations - in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama - refused to air the show.

1966 - When he was 39 years old, on July 1st, Medicare became available after President Johnson signed into law the Medicare Act in 1965. President Truman had received the first Medicare card since he had been the first to propose national healthcare law. insurance.

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Obituary

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By Richard Sandomir NEW YORK TIMES
Sept. 8, 2018

Will Jordan, a gifted impressionist who mimicked the voices of many stars but became known mainly for his full-body imitation of the variety-show host Ed Sullivan, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91. Dr. Paula Rauch, his niece, said the cause was complications of a stroke.
Sullivan, whose Sunday show was must-see television for nearly a quarter century, was an awkward, wooden physical presence who mangled words and names. Mr. Jordan turned him into a mumbling character who cracked his knuckles, popped his eyes, hunched his shoulders, folded his arms, spun in place and promised the audience it was in for a “really big shoo.”
But it was largely an invention. Sullivan was not inherently funny, so Mr. Jordan created a comic version of him. He started by putting his tongue under his upper lip — as if he were imitating an ape — and rolled his eyes so audiences could see the whites. More gestures followed, he told Gerald Nachman, the author of “Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s” (2003).
“The reason it went over was because it wasn’t anything like the real Sullivan,” Mr. Jordan said. “It was a partial invention. He never said ‘really big,’ he never said ‘shoo,’ he never cracked his knuckles, he never rolled his eyes up, he never did spins, he never frowned.”
Sullivan became Mr. Jordan’s breakthrough voice. He had honed it for a couple of years before he performed it in 1953 on the stage of “The Toast of the Town,” Mr. Sullivan’s variety shoo, which ran from 1948 to 1971. (The name was changed after a few years to “The Ed Sullivan Show.”)
After his second appearance, in 1954, when he added many of the mannerisms that would make the impression famous, Sid Shalit, a radio and TV columnist for The Daily News in New York, wrote that “Jordan captured every nuance, every inflection, every shoulder-shrug, every near-burp.”
Mr. Jordan imitated Sullivan in the Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie” (but not in the film version, in which Mr. Sullivan imitated himself), as well as in movies like “The Buddy Holly Story” (1978) and “The Doors” (1991) and in the video for Billy Joel’s 1983 song “Tell Her About It.” He also recorded a version of “Bye Bye Love,” the Everly Brothers hit, in Sullivan’s voice in 1959.
His great success at mimicking Sullivan led to imitations of his imitation, about which Mr. Jordan was extremely protective.
“The people that stole from me didn’t need to,” he told the comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff in an interview for the website Classic Television Showbiz in 2011, referring to other comedians who did Sullivan impressions. “Jackie Mason. Why would he need to steal from me? Jack Carter? Why would he steal from me?”
“The reason it went over,” Mr. Jordan said of his Ed Sullivan impression, “was because it wasn’t anything like the real Sullivan.” “They weren’t stealing Ed Sullivan. They were stealing my impression of Ed Sullivan.”
Mr. Nachman wrote that Mr. Jordan was crushed that “a legion of imitators” had appropriated his Sullivan impression. His niece, Dr. Rauch, said in a telephone interview that he had also been upset that other comedians, among them Lenny Bruce, had stolen other material from him, or so he maintained.
William Rauch (his given name is often wrongly given as Wilbur) was born in the Bronx on July 27, 1927, and grew up in Flushing, Queens. His father, Theodore, was a pharmacist who also ran the candy concession at a local movie theater. His mother, Claire (Kahan) Rauch, owned a hat store.
Billy, as his family called him, was more of a jokester than a student and notably adept at playing with a yo-yo. He graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan, performed in summer stock (but did not enjoy acting) and began working in the late 1940s as a stand-up comedian with a talent for doing impressions.
With his gift for imitating Sullivan and others, among them Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx and Jack Benny, Mr. Jordan became — along with David Frye, Rich Little, Frank Gorshin, John Byner, Marilyn Michaels and George Kirby — one of an elite group of impressionists who performed regularly on television in the postwar decades.
In the end of “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the demand for seeing Mr. Jordan mold his body and voice to imitate its host began to wane.
For years after Sullivan’s death in 1974, Mr. Jordan annually placed an ad in showbiz trade magazines that read, “It’s just not the same without you.”
In the 1970s and ’80s Mr. Jordan took a detour, imitating George C. Scott’s Academy Award-winning performance as Gen. George S. Patton for corporate sales conferences and motivational retreats.
“He had this full Patton outfit, a collection of World War II medals and a helmet, and he always did his own makeup,” Dr. Rauch said.
Mr. Jordan appeared in Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984) as himself, one of a chorus of comics reminiscing at the Carnegie Delicatessen about the small-time talent agent of the title played by Mr. Allen.
Mr. Jordan is survived by his companion, Rose Lindenmayer, and a son, Lonnie Saunders.
In 2013, long retired from show business, Mr. Jordan performed his Sullivan impression at a 100th-anniversary tribute to the Palace Theater at the Players Club in Manhattan.
The tribute was organized by Travis Stewart, who produces vaudeville shows under the name Trav S.D. “It was,” Mr. Stewart said in a telephone interview, “like the last echo of Ed Sullivan.”Jordan died at his home in Manhattan.

Memories

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He was a famous comic and I dated him in the summer of 1969. He was funny and romantic and a wonderful boyfriend.
May 20 · Reply
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