Freddie Roman, Borscht Belt comic known for roasts, died aged 85

Beloved borscht belt comic and actor Freddie Roman, best known for his roasts as part of New York’s Friars Club and later Comedy Central, died Saturday at the age of 85, his family said.

Roman suffered a heart attack in Boynton Beach, Fla., his daughter confirmed to Deadline.

The comedian had spent most of his life in show business, having had the opportunity to become a presenter at his uncle and grandfather’s Crystal Spring Hotel in the Catskills when he was just 15 years old.

Roman, born Fred Kirschenbaum, and his old-fashioned jokes were a fixture at nightclubs in cities like New York and Las Vegas.

He served as dean or president of The Friar’s Club and photographed celebrities such as Jerry Stiller, Hugh Hefner, Drew Carey, Rob Reiner and Chevy Chase on Comedy Central’s Roasts.

Freddie Roman attends the sixth annual Broadway Easter Bonnet Competitions benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at the Palace Theater on April 14, 1992 in New York City.
Roman was best known for his roasts at Friar’s Club.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty
Freddie Roman and actress Debbie Reynolds at Friar's Club in 2009.
Freddie Roman and actress Debbie Reynolds at Friar’s Club in 2009.

He has acted in numerous films including the award-winning documentary Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort (2012), Bittersweet Place (2005), Christ in the City (2005), Finding North (1998) . ) and “Sweet Lorraine” (1987), according to IMDB.

More recently, he starred in Amazon’s hit comedy series Red Oaks, playing a grumpy member of a Jewish country club in New Jersey. He also made guest appearances on the shows Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The Tonight Show.

Roman is survived by his wife Ethel and daughter Judi Levin, Deadline reported. Freddie Roman, Borscht Belt comic known for roasts, died aged 85

Emma Bowman

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