Dick Martin (comedian)
Dick Martin
Rowan martin laugh in photo.jpg
Dan Rowan (left) and Dick Martin on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, 1968
Birth name Thomas Richard Martin
Born (1922-01-30)January 30, 1922
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
Died May 24, 2008(2008-05-24) (aged 86)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Years active 1951-2002
Spouse Peggy Connelly (m. 1957-196?; divorced); 2 sons
Dolly Read (m. 1971-75, 1978-2008, his death)
Children Richard Martin and Cary Martin.

Thomas Richard "Dick" Martin (January 30, 1922 - May 24, 2008) was an American comedian and director. He was known for his role as the cohost of the sketch comedy program Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In from 1968-73.

Early life and career

Martin as Harry, Lucy's airline pilot neighbor, on The Lucy Show, 1962

Martin was born in Battle Creek, Michigan to William, a salesman and Ethel Martin, a homemaker. In the early 1930s the family moved to Detroit, where Dick's teenage years included a bout with tuberculosis, which would keep him out of the military.[1]

Martin graduated from Michigan State University. Early in his career, Martin was a staff writer for Duffy's Tavern, a radio situation comedy. Martin and Dan Rowan formed the comedy team Rowan and Martin in 1952, and played in nightclubs across the United States and overseas.

Martin played a drunk heckling a Shakespearean performer, was a mainstay of their live act for years. The duo could frequently be seen as host-performers on NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour, alternating with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and other more established names. In 1958 they starred in a feature film, Hal Kanter's comedy Western Once Upon a Horse, which failed to catch on with moviegoers. In 1960, their contract with NBC was cancelled four years early by mutual consent.

In 1962 Martin worked solo, playing next-door neighbor to Lucille Ball during the first season of her comeback sitcom The Lucy Show. He and Rowan returned to the nightclub circuit until 1966, when they were tapped to host the summer replacement series for the Dean Martin Show. He co-starred in the 1966 Doris Day movie The Glass Bottom Boat.

Laugh-In

The exposure led to an opportunity for Rowan and Martin to team up with producers Ed Friendly and George Schlatter and create Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1968-1973) on NBC. The comedy show was an immediate hit, becoming the #1 American television program within two months of its debut. It was the top-rated show in its second and third seasons. Laugh-In had a kaleidoscopic format, with what was then a uniquely fast-paced stream-of-consciousness style of blackout gags, double entendre, topical satire and catchphrases, much of it delivered by a cast of then-unknowns such as Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Arte Johnson.

At the center of the maelstrom stood the veterans Rowan and Martin, who bemusedly made no effort to slow down the program. Martin later said, "We designed it so that we are two relatively normal guys wandering through a sea of madness", and described his comic persona as "a kind of inept lech", who could be laughed at as well as laughed with. In real life, Martin spent the 1960s enjoying his high-flying sybaritic lifestyle of women and parties. After Rowan retired from show business, Martin was a frequent panelist on game shows such as Match Game and Password Plus and also hosted two game shows: a parody game show called The Cheap Show in 1978, and Mindreaders in 1979.

Later career

Martin also established himself as an efficient comedy director. Starting on The Bob Newhart Show, he directed for over a dozen series. Martin later became the chief director of the 1980s sitcom Newhart. In a 1998 episode of The Nanny, Martin guest-starred as a homeless man Fran Fine meets in a park who turns out to be Preston Collier, one of the wealthiest men in New York City.

In 1992, he played a small role in the Canadian film North of Pittsburgh, which was directed by his son Richard. In 1996, Martin guest starred as sociology professor Dr. Ben Littmeyer on 3rd Rock from the Sun.[2]

Personal life

Martin's son Richard was born in 1956.[] He married singer Peggy Connelly in 1957,[3] and after divorcing her[when?] he married Playboy Playmate and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls star Dolly Read in 1971. Martin and Read divorced in June 1974,[4] but remarried in 1978 and remained married until his death.

Death

Martin died on May 24, 2008, of breathing complications in Santa Monica, California. He had lost the use of a lung due to tuberculosis as a teenager and suffered respiratory problems late in life.[1]

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin as caricatured for NBC by Sam Berman

References

  1. ^ a b Genzlinger, Neil (May 26, 2008). "Dick Martin, 'Laugh-In' Host, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved 2015. 
  2. ^ "Dick Jokes". 3rd Rock from the Sun. Season 2. Episode 11. 1996-06-12. NBC. 
  3. ^ Harris M. Lentz III (2009). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2008: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. pp. 282-83. 
  4. ^ Deseret News, June 14, 1974, pg. A2

External links


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