February 25, 2020

Sammy Shore, Comedy Store Co-Founder, 92

Sammy Shore, whose 70-year career took him from the Catskills to Las Vegas and Hollywood but who made his biggest impact as a co-founder of the Comedy Store, died May 18 in Las Vegas. He was 92.

Shore was born Feb. 7, 1927. His career started in New York’s Catskills Borscht Belt, where he teamed with comedian Shecky Greene. The act was a big enough hit that Shore began to show up in movies and TV shows, including Jerry Lewis’ “The Bellboy” in 1960, and episodes of “Route 66,” “McHale’s Navy,” “Bewitched” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” His big break came in 1969 when he was booked to open for Elvis Presley at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. He remained Presley’s opening act until 1972. 

By then, Shore’s star was on the rise and he became a Vegas headliner. He still holds the record for most appearances by any act at Harrah’s Las Vegas. He recorded albums (“Brother Sam, Come Heal With Me” and “70 Sucks, but 80 Is Worse”) and wrote books (“The Warm-Up,” “70 Sucks!” and “The Man Who Made Elvis Laugh”), but by far, his most enduring success is the Comedy Store.

Along with his then-wife, Mitzi, and writing partner, Rudy DeLuca, Shore opened the Comedy Store in April 1972. It quickly became a launching pad for young comedians. On its Facebook page, the Comedy Store posted, “Thank you for our home Sammy. We love you and miss you forever.” 

Shore relinquished his share in the club as part of a divorce settlement in 1974. (Mitzi Shore died in April 2018.) Shore returned to the stage, continuing to headline and open for superstars including Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Ann-Margret, Connie Stevens, Bobby Darin and Glen Campbell.

On Twitter, his son Pauly, paid tribute to his father, posting, “Dad, you lived an amazing life and I’m so proud to say that you are my father. When you’re in heaven, I’ll be killing the crowds night after night and carrying on your legacy.”

Shore is also survived by his wife of 29 years, Suzanne, and children Scott, Sandi and Peter.