Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dick Martin, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: TV's 'Laugh-in' comic Dick Martin dies at 86: "LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dick Martin, the zany half of the comedy team whose 'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' took television by storm in the 1960s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as 'Sock it to me!' has died. He was 86.

Martin, who went on to become one of television's busiest directors after splitting with Dan Rowan in the late 1970s, died Saturday night of respiratory complications at a hospital in Santa Monica, family spokesman Barry Greenberg said.

'He had had some pretty severe respiratory problems for many years, and he had pretty much stopped breathing a week ago,' Greenberg said.

Martin had lost the use of one of his lungs as a teenager, and needed supplemental oxygen for most of the day in his later years."

It would be impossible for me to explain the impact of Laugh In to anybody who wasn't around when it first came on the air. So I won't even try.

I lived in Brownwood, Texas, for a number of years. Rowan and Martin appeared there for some reason, and though I wasn't living there at the time, people were still talking about them. The place must have made an impression (not a good one) on Rowan and Martin, because they joked about the place and that performance for years afterward.

4 comments:

Karin M said...

Laugh-In must hold records for number of cast members who went on to stardom and number of catchphrases that became common currency. Well, the catchphrases may tie with Get Smart. Dick played the dumb one and I didn't know he was a director. Interesting.

Todd Mason said...

Indeed, Karin...Dick Martin almost certainly had more of an influence on me through his work on THE BOB NEWHART SHOW than through LAUGH-IN, even though I watched the latter in its latter years...on that show, he was less the dumb one, to me as a kid, than the languid one who was having more fun, the Ernie to Dan Rowan's Burt. After all, he evinced none of, say, Tommy Smothers's frustration at not Quite Getting It.

But, yes, everyone hoping to appear witty seemed to be using the catchphrases from both series for a while. Johnny Carson wished he was that pervasive.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

And let's not forget The Maltese Bippy.

Bill Crider said...

A classic of the American cinema.