Lenny Bruce Pardoned, 40 Years Late
A nice present for the holidays from Gov. George Pataki — he has granted comedian Lenny Bruce a posthumous pardon for an obscenity conviction he was unfairly stuck with in New York state in 1964.
The campaign to win a pardon for Bruce was supported by his ex-wife and daughter, more than two dozen First Amendment lawyers and entertainers including Robin Williams, the Smothers Brothers and Penn and Teller…
During a November 1964 performance at Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, Bruce used more than 100 “obscene” words. Undercover police detectives attended the show, and later testified against Bruce. The charge was Giving an Obscene Performance.
He was convicted following a six-month trial. Bruce mishandled his own appeal, and, beset by legal and financial problems, died of a drug overdose in 1966 with the conviction still on the books. He was 37.
It’s forty years later than it should be, but it’s good to see New York see the error of its ways nonetheless.