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‘Laugh-In’s’ Henry Gibson dies at 73

Gibson (The Spokesman-Review)
Gibson (The Spokesman-Review)
Derrik J. Lang Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Henry Gibson, the veteran comic character actor best known for his role reciting offbeat poetry on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” has died. He was 73.

Gibson’s son, James, said Gibson died Monday at his home in Malibu after a brief battle with cancer.

After serving in the Air Force and studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Gibson – born James Bateman in Germantown, Pa., in 1935 – created his Henry Gibson comic persona, a pun on playwright Henrik Ibsen’s name, while working as a theater actor in New York. For three seasons on “Laugh-In,” he delivered satirical poems while gripping a giant flower.

After “Laugh-In,” Gibson went on to appear in several films, including “The Long Goodbye” and “Nashville,” which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. His most memorable roles included playing the menacing neighbor opposite Tom Hanks in “The ’Burbs,” the befuddled priest in “Wedding Crashers” and voicing Wilbur the Pig in the animated “Charlotte’s Web.”

His recent work included playing cantankerous Judge Clarence Brown on ABC’s “Boston Legal” for five seasons and providing the voice of sardonic reporter Bob Jenkins on Fox’s “King of the Hill.”

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