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Freddie Roman, Borscht Belt comedian, Friars Club staple, dead at 85

Freddie Roman, a fixture on the Borscht Belt comedy scene in the Catskill Mountains of New York, died Saturday. He was 85.

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Roman died in a hospital in Boynton Beach, Florida, after suffering a heart attack, Deadline reported. His booking agent, Alison Chaplin, confirmed the comedian’s death to The Associated Press on Sunday.

Roman had a long career in comedy, working rooms at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Bally’s Grand in Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to the news organization.

He was a regular on Comedy Central roasts, skewering the likes of Jerry Stiller, Hugh Hefner, Drew Carey, Rob Reiner and Chevy Chase, Deadline reported.

He was also made dean of the New York City Friars Club, where he mentored many aspiring comedians, according to the AP.

Roman carved out his comedy niche in the Catskill Mountains. The so-called Borscht Belt featured comedians such as Don Rickles and Mel Brooks, the AP reported.

He also came up with the idea of “Catskills on Broadway,” where he brought his standup comedy style to New York City, according to the AP.

Roman also appeared on “Red Oaks” on Amazon.

“A great loss to the world of comedy,” Paul Reiser tweeted. “He was such a huge supporter & mentor when I was starting out. A GREAT comic, the ultimate pro with the biggest heart. I will miss our phone calls and his big, beauty laugh. RIP my friend.”

Born Fred Kirschenbaum on May 28, 1937, in Newark, New Jersey, Roman was raised in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens in New York City. His uncle and grandfather owned the Crystal Spring Hotel in the Catskills, where Roman got his start as an emcee when he was 15 years old, the AP reported.

Roman appeared in several movies, including “Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort” (2012), “The Last Laugh” (2006), “Bittersweet Place” (2005), “Christ in the City” (2005), “Finding North” (1998) and “Sweet Lorraine” (1987), according to Deadline.

His television work included guest appearances on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The Tonight Show.”

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