by Roy Hodge
I have been thinking about my two favorite television shows from years ago – Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and The Muppets Show.
One hundred and forty episodes of “Laugh-In” ran from Jan. 12, 1968 to March 12, 1973. The show was originally aired as a one-time special Sept. 9, 1967. When it was brought back as a series it replaced “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
“Laugh-In” was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan was the straight man of the Rowan and Martin duo. He was a decorated Army Air Force fighter pilot in World War II. He was auditioned for the original version of “The Hollywood Squares,” but lost out to Peter Marshall. Rowan was the former father-in-law of actor Peter Lawford. His first wife was Miss California in 1945, who placed first runner-up to Bess Myerson, Miss America, 1945.
Dick Martin was the comic relief of the Rowan and Martin duo. After Rowan retired, Martin was a frequent panelist on game shows, and established himself as an efficient comedy director. About his association with Rowan, Martin commented, “We were raw, but we looked good together and we were funny.”
The talented and hilarious cast included Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Judy Carne, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson, JoAnne Worley, and announcer Gary Owens.
Many popular characters evolved from that group. Well-known Arte Johnson characters included Wolfgang the German soldier who would comment on happenings by saying, “Verrry interesting…but shtupid.” Johnson was also “the dirty old man,” who came on to Ruth Buzzi, who as Gladys Ormphby, seated on a park bench clobbered him with her pocketbook.
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