Sid Charles Kuller, a comedy writer and lyricist for nearly six decades whose work was performed by such stars as Jackie Gleason, Jimmy Durante, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, has died at his Sherman Oaks home. He was 82.
Kuller, a longtime San Fernando Valley resident, died Sept. 16 of complications from colon cancer, said his son, Richard, of Los Feliz.
Born in New York City, Kuller grew up in Brooklyn and briefly attended Columbia University. After a Chicago stage production of his “Oh, Say Can You Sing” in the 1930s, Kuller found himself under contract in Hollywood, where he wrote material for such pictures as “The Big Store,” “Road to Singapore,” “Melody Ranch” and “Slaughter Trail.”
During television’s Golden Age in the 1950s, he wrote for such programs as “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The All-Star Revue” and “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” and specials featuring such stars as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Martha Raye and Red Skelton.
In the ‘50s and ‘60s, Kuller worked with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, where his lyrics were heard in productions of “Rosalinda” and “Zenda.”
As Las Vegas rose to entertainment prominence in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Kuller wrote comedy material for a diverse list of performers, including Sinatra, Lee, Mickey Rooney and Jayne Mansfield.
After a hiatus during the 1970s and early ‘80s, Kuller returned in 1984 with lyrics for “Boffola,” a musical biography of Durante staged at the Grand Hotel in Anaheim.
In 1991, Chicago’s Pegasus Players staged a revival of “Jump for Joy,” a celebration of African-American culture that, along with a Duke Ellington score, contained 11 Kuller-penned songs. Kuller cited the 50-year-old musical-comedy revue, which had drawn racist threats and violence in its original run, as his proudest work.
“I place it on the top of my list because somebody has to make the statement and we made it and at the time it was dangerous,” he said upon its return to the stage.
In addition to his son, Kuller is survived by his wife of 50 years, Alice Morine Kuller, and two other sons, Jeffrey Kuller of Redondo Beach and Kenneth Kuller of Sherman Oaks.
There will be no funeral. Plans for a memorial service in October are pending. Information is available through Richard Kuller at (213) 665-9494.