The American comedy industry lost one of its most admired innovators in the person of Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins, founder of the improvisational comedy troupe, The Second City and producer of the hit comedy series "SC TV". Sahlins died peacefully at the ripe age of 90 in his home in Chicago on Sunday, June 16, survived by his wife and now his grieving widow Jane Nicholl, who confirmed his death.
By establishing "Second City" with Paul Sills and Howard Alk in 1959, Sahlins became instrumental in launching the careers of some of the most talented comics on "Saturday Night Live" like the late John Candy and John Belushi, "Ghostbusters" co-stars Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, as well as Gilda Radner.
His unparalleled track record in discovering the best in the industry got him credited for "the greatest revolution in American comedy," according to "Police Academy" star Tim Kazurinsky. Comedian George Wendt tweeted on Sunday that Sahlins was "a mischievous imp, with the mind of Bertrand Russell," one of the most brilliant minds of the 19th century.
Apart from his work in comedy, Sahlins was also a producer of dramatic theatre, having co-founded the Playwrights Theatre Club, where he served as the business director. He also had a famous rivalry with the late improvisation guru Del Close who believed in the purity of improvisation as an art form as opposed to Sahlins who thought it was best used as part of a script.