Sally Marr (December 30, 1906 – December 14, 1997) was a stand-up comic, dancer, actress and talent spotter who is best known as being the mother of legendary and seminal comic Lenny Bruce, whose act she influenced.
Born Sadie Kitchenberg in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Marr married Bruce's father, the British-born Myron (Mickey) Schneider, who was a shoe clerk, when she was 17 years old. Lenny was born on October 13, 1925. She divorced Schneider when her son Leonard was either five or eight years old.
Marr started out in show business as a dancer, necessitating that Lenny had to be brought up by relatives when he was young. Eventually, Lenny moved back in with her and she supported them as a single-mother working as a maid and a waitress. She developed a night-club act based on impersonating movie stars and became a stand-up comic. After World War II, her son Lenny launched his own career in stand-up comedy imitating his mother before developing his own routines, many of which dealt with his life with his mother.
Joan Rivers, who was influenced by the comedy of Lenny Bruce, co-wrote and starred in the play "Sally Marr...and Her Escorts," a play "suggested by the life of Sally Marr" and featuring the "Voice of Young Lenny". After 27 previews, the play ran on Broadway for 50 performances in May and June 1994. Rivers was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Play and a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Sally Marr.
Marr said in an interview in 1989, "People are always saying that everything in comedy stems from Lenny -- that everything touches him. What can I tell you? He took after me!" In addition to her work as a comic and an actress, Marr served as a talent spotter. She discovered Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin, Pat Morita, and Sam Kinison. Sally Marr died on December 14, 1997, about two weeks shy of her 91st birthday, in Los Angeles. She was survived by her granddaughter, Kitty Bruce, the daughter of Lenny Bruce and his ex-wife Honey Harlow.
- Thomas, William Karl (1 Dec 1989). Lenny Bruce: the making of a prophet. Archon Books. p. 47. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Sally Marr, 91, the Mother of Lenny Bruce". New York Times. 20 December 1997. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Scheck, Frank (16 May 1994). "`Sally Marr' Ranks High Only With Joan Rivers Fans". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- "Awards: Sally Marr...and her escorts". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 28 December 2013.