In the 1968 season, spy-thriller The Man from U.N.C.L.E. faltered in the ratings, and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was born.
JoAnne (is that a chicken joke?) Worley
Arte (verrrrry interesting...but stupid) Johnson
Ruth (wanna buy a walnetto?) Buzzi
Henry (a poem...by Henry Gibson) Gibson
Judy (sock it to me) Carne
Gary (from beautiful downtown Burbank) Owens
The show launched the careers of two women who became bona fide stars:
Goldie (giggles) Hawn
and a comic genius who joined the show in its second season:
Laugh-In brought political and social humor to network television, and its various set pieces (The Cocktail Party, The Joke Wall, and most importantly, "Laugh-In Looks at the News") set the stage for later satirical series such as Saturday Night Live (Lorne Michaels worked on the show years before creating SNL) and The Daily Show. The program created half a dozen catch phrases which were gleefully welcomed by a general public in social turmoil: "Here come da' judge", "Look it up in your Funk and Waggonal's", and "You bet your bippy", among those cited above. The show also created a novelty star out of a freaky ukulele player with a hippy look and falsetto voice, Tiny Tim. Thanks to his appearances on Laugh-In, this oddball actually hit the top 40 chart with his rendition of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."
Presiding over this chaos, Dan Rowan's exasperated set-ups and Dick Martin's cool obliviousness opened and closed the show. Laugh-In (it took its name from the sit-in protests which were happening on college campuses at the time) was an immediate smash, and topped the Neilson ratings its first two seasons. As many of the original loonies left the show, the program began a swift decline, but I was one of the viewers who hung with the show throughout its run, when later comics such as Alan Sues, Dave Madden, Fannie Flagg, and Patty Deutsch were unable to rescue the show.
In their post Laugh-In years, most of the original players continue to entertain. Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin have gone on to award-winning projects, JoAnne Worley returned to the stage, Ruth Buzzi contributes to humanitarian causes and appears regularly on children's programing, and Henry Gibson is a well-respected dramatic actor.