R.I.P. Arte Johnson, the sketch comedy master of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Image: The Everett Collection
Few shows coined as many catchphrases as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. There was "Sock it to me!" of course, which became one of key pieces of late-'60s slang. Then you had gems like "You bet your sweet bippy!" and "Here come da judge!" The one that gets the most use to this day might be "Ver-r-r-y interesting."
It went like this. After one of the comedy show's uniquely zany skits, a WWII German soldier named Wolfgang would pop up and proclaim, "Ver-r-r-y interesting." Wolfgang was just one of many brilliant characters brought to life by Arte Johnson, a key pioneer in the art of television sketch-comedy. Viewers also fell in love with Johnson's character Tyrone F. Horneigh, pictured above, a randy old man who sought to seduce Ruth Buzzi's Gladys Ormphby. Tyrone and Gladys eventually married as a ratings stunt in the third season. Tiny Tim was the best man.
In 1968, at the peak of Laugh-In's popularity, Reprise Records even released a novelty single by Johnson and Buzzi called "Very Interesting." The catchphrase even led to an NBC special called Verry Interesting. Johnson won an Emmy in 1969 for his work on Laugh-In.
Before his major breakthrough on Laugh-In, Johnson popped up in several memorable guest roles on sitcoms. His Raleigh hotel clerk checked in Andy and Barney in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Andy and Barney in the Big City." He was Cousin Edgar on Bewitched. In the sillier season three of Lost in Space, he played a space pirate named Fedor.
In subsequent decades, Johnson continued to make guest appearances on all sorts of shows. He did everything from working as a substitute letter-flipper on Wheel of Fortune to voicing characters on Scooby-Doo.
Johnson passed away on July 3, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 90.
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