Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), better known by the stage name Lenny Bruce, was an extremely influential and controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s, whose comedy revolved heavily around the social stigmas and taboos of the era in which he lived. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history.
Lenny Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider in Mineola, New York, grew up in nearby Bellmore and attended Wellington C. Mepham High School. His youth was chaotic; his parents divorced when he was five years old and Lenny moved in with various relatives over the next decade. His mother, Sally Marr (née Sadie Kitchenberg), was a stage performer who had an enormous influence on Bruce's career. After spending time working on a farm with a family that provided the stable surroundings he needed, Bruce joined the United States Navy at the age of 17 in 1942, and saw active duty in Europe. In May 1945 he reported to his ship's medical officer that he was experiencing homosexual urges. This led to his Undesirable Discharge in July 1945. However, he had not admitted to or been found guilty of any breach of naval regulations and successfully applied to have his discharge changed to one "Under Honorable Conditions ... by reason of unsuitability for the naval service".
After a short stint in California spent living with his father, Bruce settled in New York City looking to make it as a comedian. However, he was in possession of little to differentiate himself from the thousands of other showbiz hopefuls that populated the city. One locale where these hopefuls congregated was Hanson's, the diner where he first met the comedian Joe Ancis, who had a profound influence upon Bruce's approach to comedy. What Bruce did in his acts later on was a direct reflection of his meticulous schooling by Ancis.