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A Remembrance of Irwin Corey

The Los Angeles Times obituary of the unique comedian Irwin Corey stated,

“Over a career that spanned more than 70 years, Corey performed in vaudeville, radio, television, films, Broadway, nightclubs and Las Vegas showrooms.”

In 1983, I was fortunate to be booked as the opening act for Corey in a four-day run at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley. He revealed his dark side in a room backstage, where we smoked a joint, and he told me how he used to read Nazi hate literature to get him in the mood to perform. And there was a certain sense of continuity on his deathbed. The night before he died, Corey said to a close friend, James Drougas, “Trump will be assassinated soon.”

“Professor” Corey also had a humanitarian streak. In 1996, in my magazine, The Realist, I published a photo of him, from a video by his son Richard, presenting Fidel Castro a bag of California-grown pistachio nuts (Castro said, “California, hmmmm, good climate there for nuts”), a book on the Rosenberg controversy, and a credit-card-size calculator (Castro said, “I’ll have to use my little pinky to push the buttons”). Dave Channon reported that Corey went there on a diplomatic mission to lift the embargo on health supplies to Cuba, and he visited a hospital that was providing sophisticated treatment for the survivors of Chernobyl. Cuba  provided health care for more radiation victims than than did the US.