Borscht Belt performer Wakefield dies

Comedian appeared in original pilot for 'Dick Van Dyke' show

Borscht Belt comedian Jack Wakefield, who also sang, died July 2 in Boynton, Fla., of heart failure and arteriosclerosis. He was 86.

As a comedian, Wakefield headlined the Catskills for more than 50 years and toured with Sammy Davis Jr. and Engelbert Humperdink among others.

He also appeared on Broadway in 1955’s “Catch a Star” and 1964’s “I Had a Ball.”

On television, he played Alan Sturdy in Carl Reiner’s television pilot for the original Dick Van Dyke Show called “The Comedy Spot.” He did numerous guest spots on the talkshow circuit, including “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Merv Griffin.”

In later years he appeared in He appeared in films “Hardly Working” and “Viva Max.”

Wakefield also was featured in more than 1,000 commercials for companies like Schaefer Beer, Gillette, United Airlines, Almond Joy, Alcoa, Yankee Franks and Esso.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Elsie; three daughters; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made in his name to Hugs and Hope Foundation for Sick Children at

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