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Yucks = bucks: Peter Boyle memorial adds $700,000 to myeloma fight

November 10, 2009 |  2:29 pm

Although few people may be familiar with myeloma, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in Hollywood who isn't familiar with the late actor Peter Boyle -- the larger-than-life actor who cut a comedic swath through popular culture that included the tap-dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" and the sitcom curmudgeon Frank Barone on 'Everybody Loves Raymond," before succumbing to the blood cancer in 2006.

So, for the last three years, his widow, Loraine, has leveraged the latter to battle the former, calling on her husband's comedy connections and former co-workers to stage a comedy benefit to help battle the disease by funding the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF).

JMH7013 This year's event, which took place Saturday at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and Club, drew 1,200 people and raised $700,000 for the IMF. In addition to Boyle's "Raymond" co-star Ray Romano (the annual host) and cast members Doris Roberts and Brad Garrett, the comedy cavalcade included Fred Willard (channeling Elvis Presley as a stand up comic, complete with white jumpsuit and hubcap-sized belt buckle), a foul-mouthed (and extremely funny) Bob Saget, Jimmy Kimmel and Jason Alexander.

The capper was a side-splitting set by Tenacious D (the musical duo of Kyle Gass and actor Jack Black), flanked by out-sized guitar necks and punctuated with over-the-top pyrotechnics.

But perhaps even more impressive than the galaxy of stars that perform, is the deep bench of American comedy -- and musical --  talent that turn out each year in memory of Boyle and in support of the charity. (I've been at all three and it seems to get more mind-boggling each year.) You couldn't throw a copy of "TV Guide" in the VIP reception without hitting a familiar face. This year the list included "WKRP in Cincinnati" actor Howard Hesseman (sporting a eye-catching brown velvet chapeau, I might add), Jeffrey Jones (who played the long-suffering principal in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), Meat Loaf (I wonder if he looks any different by the dashboard light?), The Eagles' Joe Walsh, and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynn.

It was a bittersweet event; three years on, while the funny man himself may have shuffled off this mortal coil, his legacy of laughter echoed on.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos: (top) Performers at the 3rd Annual Comedy Celebration benefiting the Peter Boyle Memorial Fund included the actor's "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-stars Brad Garrett (left) and the event's host, Ray Romano. The closing act was a performance by the musical duo Tenacious D, one half of which (actor Jack Black) is pictured at bottom. Credits: John M. Heller / Getty Images.