University Archives


"The Lenny Bruce Piss All Over Ringside Award" Presented to Dustin Hoffman, Who Played Comedian in 1974 Eponymous Film

A gag award presented to American actor Dustin Hoffman (born 1937) after his performance as comedian and writer Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) in the 1974 film "Lenny." The resin statuette depicts a nude Hercules (identifiable by his attributes the lion skin and club) urinating while holding his genitalia. Mounted on a beveled black marble base, the front bearing the engraved plaque "The Lenny Bruce Piss All Over Ringside Award" and the back bearing a similar presentation as "Presented to Dustin Hoffman by Count Lewis." The figure is signed "G. Ruggeri" behind the stump verso, and also bears a "Sculptor / G. Ruggeri / Made in Italy" sticker found on the underside of the base. Expected surface grime, else near fine. 9.75" x 5.125" x 3.25." Provenance: From the estate of “Count” Lewis DePasquale.

Up-and-coming actor Dustin Hoffman had played Lenny Bruce in the Bob Fosse directed film "Lenny" based on the play of the same name by Julian Barry. The black and white film exploring both happy and sad moments from Bruce's short life was released in November 1974 and earned over $11 million at the box office. Dustin Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in 1975 but did not win. Was this gag gift intended to rectify that oversight, albeit facetiously?

“Count” Lewis DePasquale (1930-2001) was one of Bruce’s intimates, widely known as the “Count.” Born in Trenton, New Jersey, DePasquale served as a cryptographer and musician in the special services during the Korean War. He was a jazz keyboardist and played the organ for such performers as Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Belafonte. In January 1960, he was introduced to Lenny Bruce in Miami, Florida. Bruce immediately liked DePasquale and asked him to come open for him at the El Patio Club across town.  Over the next six years, the Count played, worked, and wrote movies with Bruce. When DePasquale died in 2001, he was in the process of writing a memoir of his experiences with Bruce.

Lenny Bruce revolutionized American comedy, by his transgressive interrogation of taboo issues like sex, race, religion, and society, and also by his use of unedited language. Bruce pushed the envelope of humor, and by so doing, also pushed against the boundaries of socially and legally acceptable public behavior. As such, he is now known as a champion of free speech. Bruce was arrested 15 times in two years, mostly on obscenity charges. The entertainer was blacklisted and facing bankruptcy when he died of an accidental morphine overdose at the age of 40 in 1966.

Gino Ruggeri was an Italian sculptor who was active ca. 1930s-1980s in the Pisa region of Italy. In other Ruggeri works, the sculptor depicted Hercules wrestling with Diomedes.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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