Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Henry Gibson, Original Cast Member of Laugh-In, Dies at 73

His hallmark character, on a game-changing TV show, was a meek, mild-mannered poet who came out holding a large flower, beginning each poem with "A poem, by Henry Gibson." Henry Gibson, one of the original cast members of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," has died. He was 73. According to his son Jon, Henry Gibson died after a short battle with cancer.

"Laugh-In" ran on NBC from 1968 - 1973. Besides Henry Gibson, the original ensemble cast included Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Jo Anne Worley and others. It was an instant hit.

"Laugh-In" became so popular that many celebrities you wouldn't think would dare darken the door of a comedy sketch show appeared. Examples included Richard Nixon, Hugh Hefner, Hugh Downs, Rod Serling, and Guy Lombardo.

Besides his poet character, in the show's famous party scenes, when the music would stop and each cast member would deliver a funny line, Henry Gibson often played a Catholic priest, sipping tea. He would put the cup on the saucer, recite his one-liner (in a serious tone), then return to sipping tea.

Of late, Henry Gibson had a recurring role on "Boston Legal" as Judge Clarke Browne.

Regarding the poetry Henry Gibson read on the show, his son Jon said, "He wrote all those himself. It was a point of pride that he only read poems that he himself wrote."

In April 1966, Hengry Gibson married Lois Joan Geiger. They had three sons: Jonathan David Gibson, Charles Alexander Gibson and James Gibson. She died in 2007.
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