Sep. 22, 1987 Siesta Key Sarasota County Florida, USA
Actor and Comedian. Daniel Hale Rowan was born the only child of carnival workers in Beggs, Oklahoma. At the age of 4, he was dancing and singing in a touring carnival with his parents, but, by the age of 11, was orphaned and, according to his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, placed in an orphanage in Colorado where he was adopted. After high school graduation, he hitchhiked to Los Angeles where he found work in the mailroom at Paramount Studios, eventually working his way up to a junior writer. He quit to serve in the Army Air Corps (Air Force) during World War II in New Guinea, where his plane was shot down and he was seriously injured. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to L.A. to sell used cars. In 1952, Rowan met Richard "Dick" Martin, a bartender in L.A., and they commenced working on a nightclub act. Their first job was in 1954 on an L.A. TV show called "Bandstand Revue." In 1958, they made a film, "Once Upon a Horse," that bombed, but they had success in 1960 with a comedy album entitled "Rowan and Martin at Work." They spent the majority of the 1960's performing in clubs, but they did get TV work, including appearing on the legendary "Ed Sullivan Show" thirteen times in the mid-1960's. In 1966, Rowan and Martin were invited to appear on the "Dean Martin Summer Show" on NBC. This gig led to a one-time special on NBC which aired on September 9, 1967, entitled "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The concept of the show was many fast-paced one-liners, sexual innuendo galore, political commentary skewering the politicians of the time, as well as lightening-quick editing that was a brand new concept in the late-1960's. Rowan played the serious-minded, pipe-smoking straight-talker while Martin played a pretty empty-minded guy who was always enticing a potential conquest at the cocktail party filled with scantily-clad women (and very hip guys) all dressed in the latest fashion. Dick Martin acknowledged in Mr. Rowan's N.Y. Times obituary that the special wasn't a success with audiences, but it did manage to win over critics. As a result, NBC ordered thirteen shows and they were broadcast opposite "Gunsmoke" and "Lucy." Within two months, "Laugh-In" was the country's number one show and would remain so for its first two seasons. "Laugh-In" premiered on NBC on January 22, 1968 and ran until May 14, 1973, for a total of 140 episodes. The show won a total of 28 awards, including seven Emmys and was very influential. It not only started up and accelerated the careers of then-relative unknowns such as Goldie Hawn, Lilly Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, Judy Carne, Flip Wilson (whose own TV show would knock "Laugh-In" from its top spot in 1970), and others, but it also added memorable and often used phrases to the American lexicon including, "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall's," "Here come da judge," "You bet your sweet bippy," and the ubiquitous "Sock it to me!" The last line would, majority of the time, be answered with a bucket of water, along with pies, ping pong balls, or whatever object was near-by to whoever delivered the line (Judy Carne, in the first season, would always be the recipient of either water, a boxing gloved punch to the side of the head, or dropped through a trap door, among other abuses). The show also introduced the world to Tyrone, TV's original Dirty Old Man, Henry Gibson's reciting poetry carrying a super-sized daisy, and the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award. Such was "Laugh-In's" success that many celebrities and politicians made cameos on the show (according to a Rowan comment used in his N.Y. Times obituary, "We had people doing cameos who just had no idea what they were getting into") – John Wayne, Billy Graham, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., even then-Presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon implied, "Sock it to me?" The show also had weekly celebrity guests including Don Rickles, Cher, Liberace, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop, among many others – Davis, Jr. being the first to deliver the now-legendary line, "Here come da judge!" on the Emmy-award winning March 25, 1968 broadcast dressed in a judge's robe and strutting out of camera range. According to the L.A. Times, only four performers stayed with "Laugh-In" for the duration of its run – Rowan, Martin, Buzzi, and Gary Owens, who played the announcer with the hand cupped over his ear who interjected out-of-left field comments at various points during the show and brought the audience to "beautiful downtown Burbank" every week. Rowan and Martin capitalized on the success of "Laugh-In" with another movie in 1969 called "The Maltese Bippy." "Laugh-In's" format would strongly influence the creators of "Saturday Night Live" (which debuted in 1975). Some of "SNL's" present-day skits are remnants of "Laugh-In's," demonstrating the strong influence of the latter - thirty-five years after it left the air. After "Laugh-In" ended, Rowan worked sporadically in show business, doing some TV work for charity and guest roles (as opposed to Martin, who kept active with a nightclub act and directing). In 1976, Rowan and Martin dissolved their professional partnership ("…after 25 years, enough's enough. We've done everything," Rowan was quoted at the time and which appeared in his L.A. Times obituary) and, in 1980, Rowan and Martin won a $4.6 million lawsuit against George Schlatter, executive producer of "Laugh-In," for producing a "Laugh-In" reprise sans Rowan's and Martin's permission. Rowan had been battling lymphatic cancer for nine months before he succumbed to the disease at home in Manasota Key, Florida. (bio by: Donna Di Giacomo)
Cause of death: Cancer
Burial: Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: Kenneth McNeil Record added: Mar 14, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6259132