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The tragic true story behind Marvelous Mrs Maisel's Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce is one of the only real-life characters in Marvelous Mrs Maisel

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Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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Luke Kirby's portrayal of Lenny Bruce is one of our favorite things about Marvelous Mrs Maisel. In the show, Lenny's will-they-won't-they relationship with Miriam alongside his mentorship which helps her become a huge star has viewers swooning - but did you know Lenny was actually a real person?

While most characters in the show are fictional, Lenny was plucked right out of history. A hugely successful yet troubled comic, Lenny struggled with legal difficulties and drug problems throughout his life. In the show, he first meets Midge in prison and the pair swiftly become friends and eventually lovers. So how much of Lenny's life, as depicted in the show, is actually true?

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Lenny Bruce is played by Luke Kirby

While, of course, Lenny couldn't have met the fictional Miriam Maisel, he was indeed a hugely successful comic who was known for being controversial about his subject matter; discussing everything from religion to drugs. He was also, as the show depicts, arrested several times thanks to his act, as he was charged with obscenity. He was also arrested on drug charges and for impersonating a priest at different points in his life, as well as being banned from the UK after performing there once.

MORE: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel: how does the show end? All the details

 MORE: Marvelous Mrs Maisel: was Lenny Bruce’s death depicted in season 5?

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Lenny passed away aged 40

In 1964, Lenny was arrested for an appearance at Café Au Go Go in NYC, had a six-month trial and was eventually sentenced to four months in a workhouse, which was then appealed. His obscenity conviction was eventually overturned posthumously. 

Lenny then suggests that they get together again sometime before he dies, to which Midge replies: "It's a date." Tragically, Lenny passed away aged 40 in 1966 following an accidental overdose, but is still known today as one of the world's greatest comics, reaching third place on the Rolling Stones 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time.

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