Freddie Roman, Staple Borscht Belt Stand-Up Comedian, Dies at 85

Roman was also dean of the esteemed New York City Friars Club

Freddie Roman
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Freddie Roman, a staple stand-up comedian in the Catskill Mountains’ Borscht Belt region and integral member of the esteemed New York City Friars Club, died of a heart attack Saturday in Boynton Beach, Florida, his daughter, Judi Levin, told TMZ. Roman was 85.

The actor, writer and producer was also known for his Comedy Central roasts of various celebrities — including Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Stiller and Chevy Chase. As a fixture in the Friars Club, the private club dating its founding back to the start of the 20th century and known for its roasting panache, Roman was dean emeritus for years beginning in the ’90s, after which he was succeeded by the late Larry King. The famous locale was the subject of a “Seinfeld” Season 7 episode, has been helmed by leaders Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan and Jerry Lewis and has hosted the likes of Jack Black, Barbara Walters and Bob Saget in recent years.

While a New York City-born and bred comic, Roman performed at various national venues like Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace and Harrah’s in Atlantic City. In addition to his comedic chops, Roman counts film credits in the documentary “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort” (2012), “Bittersweet Place” (2005), the short film “Christ in the City” (2005), “Finding North” (1998) and “Sweet Lorraine” (1987). He also played himself in 2019’s “The Comedian,” starring Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito and Patti LuPone. Some of his TV credits include “Red Oaks” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

Roman also conceived and starred in the revue “Catskills on Broadway,” which featured routines by himself, Mal Z. Lawrence, Dick Capri and Louise Duart. The show originally ran on Broadway from 1991 to 1993.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ethel, and his daughter.