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LIFE.com: Taboo Then, Typical Now

1950s and '60s: Lenny Bruce Curses in His Act

Before Richard Pryor, before Louis C.K., before George Carlin and his "7 dirty words," there was Lenny Bruce. In the early '60s, the stand-up comedian was arrested several times for using obscenities in his act -- once a cop booked him for saying the word "schmuck." In 1964, Bruce was convicted on obscenity charges, and was sentenced to four months in a workhouse. He died during the appeals process. Decades later, he received a posthumous pardon by New York Gov. George Pataki. (Photo: Julian Wasser/Time and Life Pictures/Getty Images/LIFE.com)
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