Wednesday saw another tragedy in showbiz, with the death of comedian and TV pioneer Sid Caesar. He was 91. In the early years of his career, was the star and creator of Your Show of Shows, which practically introduced the variety show format in the 1950s. The show went on to launch some of the century’s most popular entertainers – Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Carl Reiner all had their beginnings on Your Show of Shows.

Far from the showbiz cliché, Caesar lived his final days in peace and in good spirits at his home in Beverly Hills. His health had been deteriorating for the past year, but the comedian continued to welcome visitors, reminisce and tell jokes, according to friends and collaborators, including Reiner, who was quoted by Reuters.

Caesar’s career in television spanned six decades, however most contemporary viewers would recognize him mostly from Your Show of Shows. Besides this, his imput also shaped pop culture staples like The Dick Van Dyke Show, the box-office hit Grease and Saturday Night Live, marking his work as both diverse and popular in each of its many incarnations.

One of the most ambitious and demanding of all TV enterprises, Your Show of Shows was 90 minutes of live original sketch comedy broadcast every Saturday night, 39 weeks a year. It is widely considered the prototype for every U.S. TV sketch comedy series that followed, including Saturday Night Live. Caesar’s fellow comedians remembered him fondly, tweeting messages of admiration in the wake of his death.