'Laugh-In' character actor Arte Johnson dies at 90
LOS ANGELES (FOX 11) - Emmy-winning actor Arte Johnson, who generated belly laughs -- often from fellow cast members on camera -- while portraying various off-beat characters on the slapstick variety show ``Rowan & Martin's
Laugh-In,'' has died at age 90
His family told The Hollywood Reporter Johnson died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of heart failure, following a three- year battle with bladder and prostate cancer.
Publicist Harlan Boll said no formal funeral services are planned. Instead, his ashes will be flown to Hawaii, "his home away from home,"where a private ceremony will be held.
Johnson began his career on stage in New York before making the move to television in the mid-1950s, appearing on programs such as "The Danny Thomas Show," "It's Always Jan," "Sally," "The Twilight Zone" and "The Andy Griffith Show" over the ensuing decade. He also sprinkled in a handful of film appearances.
He got his big break in the late 1960s when he landed in the cast of "Laugh-In," a campy collection of slapstick comedy bits that aired from 1968 to 1973. Johnson portrayed dozens of characters on the show -- a German soldier peering at various sketches through bushes and uttering, "Verrrrrry interesting"; an old man on a park bench regularly propositioning a character played by actress Ruth Buzzi, who would respond by walloping him with her purse; and a raincoat-wearing man unable to keep his tricycle upright . "Thank you for a wonderful half-century of friendship," Buzzi wrote on her Twitter page Wednesday. "I could not have shared the spotlight with a nicer guy. Rest in peace. And yes, Arte Johnson, I believe in the hereafter."
Johnson won an Emmy Award for his work on the show in 1969. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he left the show after four seasons, saying it was too work-intensive and left him little time to do anything else. He continued working regularly, appearing on shows including "Love, American Style," "The Partridge Family," "Kojak," "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote."
He was also prolific in the voice-over world, lending his voice to animated shows such as ``DuckTales,'' "The Smurfs," "The Flintstone Kids," "Snorks" and "Animaniacs."
He is survived by his wife, Gisela, and a brother.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Actors & Others for Animals, Best Friends and/or to cancer research programs, Boll said.
CNS contributed to this report