Very Interestinpeace...
July 4, 2019 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Comedic actor Arte Johnson has died, age 90. Johnson was known for playing creepy insectivore Renfield in Love At First Bite, a damned DJ on Night Gallery and many characters on the original Laugh-In.

Johnson also briefly served as a game show host and Yakov Smirnoff's dad on Night Court.

And here's his mos famous character.

He is survived by his wife and a twin brother Coslough, a writer on The Monkees.

Johnson said he never had any desire to be a star. "I was always a reactive performer. A guy does something, I will react to it," he said. "That's my mindset. I cannot be the No. 1. I guess I was born to be a second banana. And I had no reluctance in doing it. I loved it."
posted by zaixfeep (35 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was born to be a second banana.

I totally understand the appeel, Arte, I really do.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:33 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I learned yesterday that his famous character on Laugh In was named Wolfgang Busch, and I laughed out loud.
posted by hippybear at 1:34 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


(Like I'd watched reruns of laugh in for literally decades and I didn't know that character had a name, and even if that's made up after the fact, that's pretty great. Also, his park bench dirty old man opposite Ruth Buzzy is basically a Mad Magazine page in live action.)
posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


And, finally...

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posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


The old lecher was 'Tyrone F. Horneigh', according to the obit.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:42 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


{mods, my browser borked while I was creating the post. Please change the game show link to this, and you may delete this comment}
posted by zaixfeep at 1:49 PM on July 4, 2019


Perhaps the most solid of all of Laugh-In's regulars. He always seemed to be working at a higher level (and his own level) than all the rest. Certainly, he was never awestruck by any of the guest stars -- he just went in and did his own thing, and it was up to the rest to catch up.

Never a weak performance. He went all-in on his comedy, and his fearlessness shone through. The simplest of premises -- the dirty old man on a bench, a man on a tricycle colliding with things -- all proved rich lodes for Arte to mine again and again, always bringing something new.

I can't blame him for getting out when he did -- his pace must have been exhausting. The show took a real decline after his departure. That may or may not have been due to Arte's leaving, but it certainly didn't help.

A good life lived, and he left this place richer for his having been here.

Thanks, Arte! See you around.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


'Coslough Johnson' was the second chronological entry to my Memorable/Earwormy TV Credit Names list, right after animator 'Xenia' and right before NBC News staffer 'Bambi Tascarella', MTM set decorator 'C L O U D I A' and producers 'Ponsonby Britt' and 'Vin Di Bona'. I used to call out 'It's Coleslaw!' to the TV.

Maybe I shouldn't have shared this.
posted by zaixfeep at 2:02 PM on July 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


That leaves five Laugh-In cast members still with us, according to whosaliveandwhosdead.com. Thanks for the laughs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:20 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]




'
posted by Splunge at 2:37 PM on July 4, 2019


Underpants Monster, I count Buzzi, Hawn, Tomlin and Worley; who are you counting as #5?
posted by zaixfeep at 2:51 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Underpants Monster, I count Buzzi, Hawn, Tomlin and Worley; who are you counting as #5?

Willie Tyler; he wasn't on that long, but I still count him.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:20 PM on July 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Verrrrrry interesting.....but schtupid!!!
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posted by dannyboybell at 3:43 PM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 3:48 PM on July 4, 2019


Sometime in the early 70’s I walked out of a store on the famous shopping street (whose name I can’t remember) in Beverly Hills and Arte Johnson walked right by. I looked at him and he looked at me with the please don’t recognize me expression, and that was it.

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posted by njohnson23 at 3:48 PM on July 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


He also did an excellent job of narrating the audiobook of Gary Shteyngart's "Absurdistan".

"A passing T-62 had begun to rotate its barrel our way, like a slow child trying to make friends."

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posted by hearthpig at 4:31 PM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2019


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posted by allthinky at 5:29 PM on July 4, 2019


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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 5:42 PM on July 4, 2019


That leaves five Laugh-In cast members still with us,...

If you only count 4 surviving, it's the same number that walked on the moon. Laugh-In and Apollo were very nearly contemporaneous and inhabit adjacent spots in my brain.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:05 PM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


> {mods, my browser borked while I was creating the post. Please change the game show link to this , and you may delete this comment}

zaixfreep: The mods won't see your comment unless they happen to be reading the thread. Either use the "Flag with note..." flag or the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page. (I flagged your comment for you so you're off the hook this time :)
posted by ardgedee at 6:16 PM on July 4, 2019


[Which, someone flagged it now! Thank you, and fixed, carry on.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:18 PM on July 4, 2019


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posted by Joey Michaels at 6:38 PM on July 4, 2019


I picture him in a yellow slicker, hunched, furiously pedaling a tricycle towards the pearly gates... and then, on striking them, falling over.

Thanks for some memorable laughs, Arte. Damn I loved you on Laugh-In.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:19 PM on July 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


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posted by evilDoug at 10:25 PM on July 4, 2019


He was hilarious on Laugh-In, he really stood out from some seriously great comedians.

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posted by Sphinx at 11:17 PM on July 4, 2019


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posted by bryon at 11:42 PM on July 4, 2019


BEST RENFIELD EVAR.

RIP, Arte.
posted by davelog at 4:23 AM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by Gelatin at 4:39 AM on July 5, 2019


. Thanks Arte!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:41 AM on July 5, 2019


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Thanks for the laughs.

I recently tried to explain ‘Laugh In’ to a teenager. I called it a counter culture TV show.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2019


Johnson did a LOT of cartoon voice work, as well. Those of us of a Certain Age might remember him best as Misterjaw from the old Pink Panther show.
posted by hanov3r at 9:43 AM on July 5, 2019


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posted by filtergik at 5:20 AM on July 6, 2019


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posted by detachd at 6:27 AM on July 6, 2019


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