Black and white photograph of a man with black text on a blue and on a red background
©GEORGE SCHLATTER - ED FRIENDLY PRODUCTIONS & ROMART INC. 1969
Laugh-In was a popular American sketch comedy television show created by Dan Rowen and Dick Martin. The show, which consisted of 140 episodes, ran from 1968-1973. The title was a play on words reflecting the “love-ins” and “sit-ins” common in the 1960s hippie culture and civil rights movements. Skits from the show featured regular cast members and special guest stars and became the launching platform for stars such as Goldie Hawn, Lilly Tomlin and Arte Johnson. Laugh-In became the #1 television show in America within two months of its debut.
Henry Gibson (1935-2009), born James Bateman, was the flower-holding poet from the television series. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America, Gibson served in the Air Force as an intelligence officer with the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance in France from 1957-1960. As a civilian returning to America, he roomed with Jon Voight, a college pal, and the two came up with an act depicting 2 brothers from the Ozarks who wreaked havoc wherever they went. One of the brothers Voight dubbed “Henry Gibson” and the name stuck.
When Gibson auditioned for the Laugh-In series, he read a poem and did a back-flip. The show’s executive producer was so impressed he told Gibson to show up for work on Monday. All of the poems Gibson performed on the show were his creation. Gibson’s later professional career included numerous television and film appearances and he earned the National Society of Film Critics’ award for best supporting actor in Nashville.