Television comedian Dick Martin dies

May 27, 2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (UPI) -- Legendary television comedian Dick Martin, who teamed with Dan Rowan on the 1960s hit show "Laugh-In," has died in California, his publicist said Sunday.

Martin, 86, died Saturday "of respiratory complications while surrounded by his wife, family and friends," said his agent, Barry Greenberg.

Born in Battle Creek, Mich., Martin was half of a successful night club stand-up act with Rowan and a regular television sitcom actor when the team was tapped by NBC to host a new kind of sketch comedy show. "Laugh-In" revolutionized the genre with its hippie aesthetic, cutting-edge political humor and talented cast of future stars.

Greenberg said NBC put the show on opposite some tough competition -- "The Lucy Show" and "Gunsmoke" -- so "nobody gave the show much of a chance -- but by the eighth show, 'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' was the No. 1 show in the country. (It) taped 144 shows and went off the air in 1973."

Martin also had a successful post-"Laugh-In" career, producing many episodes of popular network television sitcoms such as "The Bob Newhart Show."

He is survived by his wife, former Playboy playmate Dolly Read (Martin), and by two sons.

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