Say Goodnight Dick – Laugh-in’s Dick Martin

One show my mother would never let me watch in the late 60’s was “Rowen & Martin’s Laugh In.” She told me it had too much hippy stuff in it. The show was what all the kids at school were talking about so I really wanted to see it. When I did get to was when I disobeyed Mom and went over to my friends house to watch it.

Dick Martin (Right) with partner Dan Rowan (Left) giving out the weekly Fickle Finger Award on TV's Laugh-In.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was an American sketch comedy television program which ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968 to May 14, 1973. It broke barriers with its mix of zany, off-beat satire, surrealism and slapstick in stark contrast to the pattern of songs and sketches followed by most light entertainment shows.

Emmy-winning comedian, actor, director, producer Dick Martin has taken his Final Taxi at age 86.

Dick Martin and comedy partner Dan Rowan changed the face of TV and launched the careers of many talented people including Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Artie Johnson, Tiny Tim, Ruth Buzzi, Flip Wilson and Henry Gibson. Dick Martin and Dan Rowen were nominated for four Emmy awards, winning in 1969.

Dick Martin, who was born in Michigan in 1922, grew up with a love of comedy, and wrote radio scripts in the Forties. His early performing credits include a bit part inFather’s Little Dividend (1951) with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.

He met Dan Rowan late in 1951, shortly after seeing the double act of Martin and Lewis and deciding “it looked like a lot of fun”. A few weeks later the double act of Rowan and Martin was born, and the team played night-clubs. Their career was given a boost after they performed as the opening act for Nat “King” Cole at a club at Lake Tahoe. Cole kept them on for a worldwide tour ending, after which they were given a four-week engagement in Las Vegas.

Though their names were now known enough for them to star in a low-budget western spoof, Once Upon a Horse (1958), they were still an “opening act”, and from 1962 to 1964 Martin alone had a recurring television role in The Lucy Show. The team made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Perry Como Show, and in 1966 they were hired by NBC when Dean Martin asked them to be hosts of The Dean Martin Summer Show. Their success prompted NBC to offer them their own show, the duo replying that they had “something a little different” in mind.

The first Laugh-In special was transmitted in September 1967 and, though the network was not happy with it, critical response was so positive that it was given a 13-week run. Slotted opposite two of the country’s biggest television successes, Gunsmoke and The Lucy Show, it was not predicted to survive, but by the eighth show it was the number one program in the US.

The show created numerous catchphrases including, “Verrry Eeenteresting!,” “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls,!,” “You bet your sweet bippy!, ” “Here come de’ judge!” and “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

Following the success if “Laugh-In” Rowen and Martin starred in the horror comedy “The Maltese Bippy.” Dick Martin acted in a number of films and TV shows without Dan Rowen. They include “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “The Love Boat,” “Zero to Sixty,” “The Glass Bottom Boat,” “The Lucy Show” and “Father’s Little Dividend.”

Dick Martin also enjoyed a successful career as a TV director. His directing credits include “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Sledge Hammer!,” “Newhart,” “The Redd Foxx Show,” “Mama’s Family,” “Goodnight, Beantown,” “Family Ties,” “Archie Bunker’s Place” and “House Calls.”


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