Sunday, May 25, 2008

Say Goodnight, Dick

One of the great comedic talents of my life. I laughed my arse off at that show, it was so fast and so stupid. I actually know who Dolly Read is (shaddup). She was beautiful. Good for him. Say Goodnight Dick...goodnight Dick
SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 24, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Dick Martin, who co-created and co-hosted Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In - a show which forever changed the face of television - and who championed free speech and satire as staples in American media, died today of respiratory complications, while surrounded by his wife, family, and friends. He was 86 years young.
In addition to a 25-year career in nightclubs and the success of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Dick Martin began a second career as a television director in 1976, starting with The Bob Newhart Show. He was the chief director of the 1980s sitcom Newhart as well as the host of the short-lived Mindreaders game show in the late 1970s. By the time he retired from his second career, he had directed over 200 hours of television.
He married Britain's first Playboy Playmate Dolly Read (Dolly Martin) in 1971. Dolly Read had starred in the cult classic feature film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Martin was formerly married to Peggy Connelly. He has two sons, Richard Martin and Cary Martin.
Dick Martin was born on January 30, 1922, in Battle Creek, Michigan. He took an early interest in comedy and in his twenties worked briefly as a staff writer for the radio show Duffy's Tavern, working with the author and Broadway director Abe Burrows.
In 1951 he had a bit part in the Vincente Minnelli film Father's Little Dividend, alongside Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, but it took him several more years to begin carving out a career for himself in television comedy. This began with an appearance on The Bob Hope Show, in an episode which also featured Diana Dors and Betty Grable. He then appeared in two episodes of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, the first of which featured Shirley MacLaine and the second of which involved his first appearance with Dan Rowan, who was to become the other half of his famous double-act.
It was 1952 when Dan Rowan and Dick Martin met. Dick Martin, who had just seen Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis perform at Slapsie Maxie's nightclub, decided "that looked like a lot of fun." Nine days later, Rowan and Martin broke in their act at Charlie Foy's Supper Club in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. They didn't do all that well but while sitting at the bar after the show, comedian Joe Frisco came up to them and said "Don't give up kids - you've got class."
Rowan and Martin began playing nightclubs throughout America. The first time they played Las Vegas was early 1953 at the Golden Nugget; they played three times downtown at the El Cortez before moving "up" to the Strip. They received their first big break in Lake Tahoe at the Calvada Lodge, owned by Joby Lewis of the Detroit "family."
At the Calvada, they opened for a young singer named Nat King Cole. After a 3-week stint in Tahoe, Nat took the boys to Australia where they played Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, then flew on to play Auckland, New Zealand. Cole then took Rowan and Martin to the Chez Paree in Chicago, and on to the Copacabana in New York City. It was in 1955 that Rowan and Martin first played the Sands Hotel for a four-week engagement on the Las Vegas strip - they had arrived!
Between 1962 and 1964, Martin - without Rowan - was a regular on The Lucy Show.
Nat King Cole had opened the doors for Rowan and Martin, and they were now booked continuously as an opening act in Las Vegas and New York. At the same time, they began making appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show (a total of 18 times), the Perry Como Show (8 times), and The Hollywood Palace (10 times). They also appeared on the Dean Martin Variety Show on NBC.
In 1966, Dean's producer, Greg Garrison, sold NBC on the idea of a Dean Martin summer show. NBC wanted to have rotating hosts in the manner of The Hollywood Palace, but Dean Martin insisted on Rowan and Martin as sole hosts of the shows.
The 12 shows they hosted were so successful that NBC approached Rowan and Martin to host their own variety show. Dan and Dick said they "had something a little different" in mind. NBC said, "let's give it a try" and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was born. They shot a special in September, 1967. NBC was not thrilled with the show, but critics around the country were so enthusiastic that NBC relented to a 13-week run beginning mid-season.
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In began their 13-show run in January, 1968. NBC put the show on opposite The Lucy Show and Gunsmoke, two mega-hits and nobody gave the show much of a chance - but by the eighth show, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was the number one show in the country. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In taped 144 shows and went off the air in 1973.
Though he never neglected his television work, Martin became eagerly involved with Hollywood, appearing in comedies such as The Glass Bottom Boat; Zero to Sixty, with Darren McGavin and Joan Collins; and Carbon Copy, with George Segal and Denzel Washington. Martin also had acting roles in popular series including Coach, with Craig T Nelson and Jerry Van Dyke; 3rd Rock from the Sun, with John Lithgow and Kristen Johnston; Blossom, with Mayim Bialik and Joey Lawrence; Baywatch, with David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson; and Diagnosis Murder, with Dick Van Dyke and Scott Baio.
Dan Rowan retired to France until his death from lymphatic cancer in 1987.
Rowan and Martin also appeared together in comedy western film Once Upon a Horse and in the 1969 horror spoof film The Maltese Bippy, with Julie Newmar.
Dan Rowan and Dick Martin received the 2,194th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.
As requested by Martin, there will be no funeral


dr sardonicus said...

Goodnight, Dick.

Dave said...

I went to a McGovern rally in '72 and one of the placards read: "Say Goodnight, Dick!" (Unfortunately, the Trickster won in a landslide, but said "goodnight" less than two years later.)

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