1950's TV Star Imogene Coca Dies at 92

Her comedic ability was tapped by accident while she was rehearsing for a revue called "New Faces of 1934." The theater was cold and she borrowed a man's camel's hair coat that was ludicrously large on her. The 5-foot-3 Coca began clowning around on stage using the over-length garment in a mock fan dance. The producer, Leonard Sillman, saw and liked the bit and incorporated it in the show. She developed a small following but her career went along in fits and starts. It was not until 1949 when she was hired by Liebman for his televised "Admiral Broadway Revue" that she became widely known. She was immediate hit, as was Caesar, another cast member. They starred together the following year when the program became Your Show of Shows, a 90-minute, live program on Saturday nights. Writers for the program included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Larry Gelbart, but everyone contributed, including the stars. Each season was 39 weeks. There were no cue cards. Offstage, Coca was extremely shy and gentle. An animal lover, she once bought a crippled duck for 60 cents while vacationing in California and brought it back to live on her penthouse terrace in Manhattan. She also had standard poodles most of her life. She was married in 1935 to Robert Burton; he arranged the music for many of her sketches. Burton died in 1955, and five years later she married actor King Donovan. They often performed in the theater together. He died in 1987. She had no immediate family.

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