Sunday, May 25, 2008

Good-night, Dick

The Fickle Finger of Fate has struck. From BBC News:
Actor and comedian Dick Martin, whose series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In made stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, has died in California, aged 86.

Martin, who also directed a string of TV shows, was being treated for respiratory problems in a Santa Monica hospital, a family spokesman said.

“He had some severe problems for many years, and had pretty much stopped breathing a week ago,” he added.

The series took U.S. TV by storm when it began in January 1968.

Rather than relying on scripted song-and-dance segments, it offered quickfire jokes, political satire and slapstick from a team of young actors and comedians, creating catchphrases such as “sock it to me!”

The show was fronted by Martin and Dan Rowan, who had worked together as nightclub comics since the 1950s before breaking into TV.
Although I was pretty young when Laugh-In was originally broadcast (1968-1973), and my mother was definitely not a big fan of my brother and I watching the show (though my father saw it regularly), I sneaked peeks at it as often as possible. I remember well the parodies of network news, the Farkel Family, and how at the end of every episode, Rowan would turn to his partner Martin and say, “Say good-night, Dick,” with Martin answering, “Good-night, Dick.” Laugh-In was the Saturday Night Live of the Nixon era, but even faster-paced, with each longer segment book-ended by quickie skits, often dances.

Rowan died in 1987. Martin died yesterday. But the laughs go on.

READ MORE:Rowan and Martin Promote Savings Bonds,” by Richard Keller (TV Squad).

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