Chronology – The Early Years

young lenny bruce 1925

The man we know as Lenny Bruce started off in humble beginnings as Leonard Alfred Schneider . Born in Mineola, New York, his youth was chaotic, starting with the divorce of his parents. Following their divorce, he was raised by his mother, Sally Marr, and Aunt Mema.

Lenny’s mother worked as a stage performer, playing an important role as well as a great influence on his career.

While growing up in Mineola, Lenny attended school to fifth grade at North Bellemore, Long Island.

1941

Ran away from home at age 16.

Spent two years living and working with the Dengler family on a Long Island farm.

1942

Volunteers for the U.S. Navy. He served in the same boot training in Newport, Rhode Island as Artie Shaw .

While in the Navy, did posts to North Africa aboard the U.S.S. Brooklyn .

1944

Contract hepatitis which would lead to future health problems.

1945

Lenny leaves the Navy with an honorable discharge after posing as a transvestite in a Wave uniform made by a fellow rating in exchange for his beer quota.

After his service, he returns to the Dengler farm is met with indifference.

Goes back to stay with his mother, Sally, who had set up a dancing school in New York.

1947

Stands in for MC at the Victory Club on Ocean Parkway, a nightclub where his mother works. Lenny gets his first taste of show business.

Not long after, he begins performing in clubs such as Squires in Long island, Clay Theatre in New Jersey, George’s Corner in Greenwich Village and the Blue Haven in Jackson heights as part of the sham “Amateur Night” for $2 and the carfare home.

1948-1949

Managed by Marvin Walsh.

Wins Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show.

Begins to play in “good” clubs such as The Strand on Broadway, the Tick Tock in Milwaukee. Lenny is now making $450 a week from these shows.