22nd December
It was on this day...

1964 Lenny Bruce Convicted For Obscenity

Lenny Bruce was sentenced to four months in jail for swearing (obscenity) in his nightclub act. Bruce would never serve the time because he died of an overdose in August 1966 while the case was on appeal.

The case was brought after a performance on 31st March 1964 in a Greenwich Village theater, New York. He did his usual act, to an audience which included members of the New York Police department. A few days afterwards he and the nightclub owner were arrested.

At the trial, reading notes taken from Bruce's stage performance, the police officer got laughs from the jury at Bruce's material. Lenny Bruce complained about the police officer's delivery.

He was convicted.

After the case, Bruce spent all of his time on his defense.

Lenny Bruce died at his home in Los Angeles on 3rd August 1966, of a heroin overdose.

Following this case, the authorities found it increasingly difficult to bring prosecutions for obscenity against stage performers as the public became increasingly sympathetic to artists' freedom of expression.

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