CHICAGO (CBS) — The co-founder of Chicago’s renowned Second City comedy troupe has died.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Bernard “Bernie” Sahlins died at his Chicago home on Sunday at the age of 90.

A University of Chicago graduate, Sahlins helped create The Second City theater in 1959 with business partners Howard Alk and Paul Sills.

The Second City became the most prolific and influential comedy theater in the world.

“Art is not a matter of life and death, it’s much more important than that,” Sahlins said in 2006 as he received an honorary doctorate from Columbia College.

He helped hire and nurture the early careers of some of the greatest comedians, including Alan Arkin, John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis, among others.

So many Second City stars went on to star on Saturday Night Live that Sahlins once joked SNL creator Lorne Michaels should be barred from coming to the Chicago theater.

Andrew Alexander, who bought The Second City in 1985, described Sahlins as a giant of the industry, and a friend and colleague to generations of Chicago theater artists.