The Star Ledger
|Check out Mugsy's Page on FACEBOOK|
|Article in the Star Ledger written by Peter Genovese|
Musician/TV Comedian Mugsy Dies at 56
Television personality "Mugsy" passed away on October 24th , 2005 at the age of 56. Best known for his contributions to The Uncle Floyd Show and The 11th Hour programs, Mugsy was a public persona but a private person. Most of his fans never knew his real name.
Craig Dexter Calam was born in West Orange, New Jersey and lived most of his life in the Garden State. He never liked his given name and began calling himself "Mugsy" as a young man, wearing his trademark long hair and red cap. Mugsy attended college at Miami Dade but returned to New Jersey without finishing when his mother became ill. He was married twice but remained single at the end of his life.
Bitten by the performing bug at an early age, Mugsy began playing guitar in local clubs and soon was given an opportunity to perform on "Uncle" Floyd Vivino's TV show which was produced in West Orange at that time. Mugsy created memorable comic characters such as Captain Fork, Bad News Todd and Alfred the Astrologer, but was best known for his musical parodies. Mugsy would imitate famous musicians and write humorous lyrics to their hit songs. Characters like Willie Half-Nelson (Willie Nelson), Pot Roast (Meat Loaf), Tom Waste (Tom Waits), Neil Yuck (Neil Young), Bruce Stringbean (Bruce Springsteen) and Bob Dilly (Bob Dylan) became fan favorites both on the air and in live performances at clubs like The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. Mugsy became well known over the years as The Uncle Floyd Show was seen throughout the tri-state area on many broadcast outlets, including WNBC in New York, as well as in syndication in major markets across the U.S.
Mugsy later created The 11th Hour, a live cable TV show which he wrote and produced, as well as a variety of late night programming under the After Hours banner. With a new format, a new cast, and all the creative content under his control, Mugsy was very proud of his accomplishments as a television producer.Although he was a gifted comedian and musician, perhaps Mugsy's greatest talent was as an instigator. It was bad boy Mugsy who would creep across the floor unseen by the camera to poke Floyd with a stick while he was trying to play the piano, or to light firecrackers during a stale sketch to spark chaos and laughter. Mugsy had a knack for taking almost anything, notably an empty coffee cup, and turning it into a comic prop. No one got more comedy mileage out of wiggling a mute puppet than Mugsy.
Earlier this year Mugsy was stricken by cancer for the second time and quickly deteriorated. He was given a standing ovation by his extended family of show biz friends and then he passed away quietly in the 11th hour. As always, his timing was impeccable.
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