November 19, 2017

Kitty Bruce: How to share your father’s work and influence scholars

On Oct. 27 and 28, Brandeis will display newly acquired papers, photographs and other materials belonging to Lenny Bruce, the late comedian. The collection will open with the symposium “Comedy and the Constitution: The Legacy of Lenny Bruce,” and will feature a conversation with Kitty Bruce, his daughter. Kitty was just 11 when her famous father – comedian, satirist and cultural critic Lenny Bruce – died of a drug overdose at age 40 in 1966. While many popular comedians who preceded him stuck with bland fare designed not to offend, Bruce was a leader in a new vanguard of comedians who pushed the envelope with sometimes profane routines that skewered the hypocritical elements of society. He was repeatedly arrested for obscenity and was convicted in New York City; his death came shortly before his appeal was set to begin. For years, Kitty Bruce protected her father’s papers, photographs and other materials in her own home. Two years ago, a generous gift from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation made it possible for Brandeis to acquire and preserve the papers. Lenny Bruce’s papers will be available to the public, as Brandeis hosts a two-day conference about his significance.

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