Arte Johnson

Active - 1956 - 1998  |   Born - Jan 20, 1929 in Benton Harbor, Michigan  |   Died - Jul 3, 2019   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Children's/Family, Fantasy

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Diminutive (5'4"), bespectacled, sandy-haired Arte Johnson built up his early reputation in musical comedy revues. He began toting up film and TV credits in 1955, usually playing goggle-eyed nerds. Johnson was a regular and semi-regular in several sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s, including It's Always Jan (1955), Sally (1958), Hennessey (1959-62) and Don't Call Me Charlie (1962). Though established as a comedian, Johnson found himself taking more and more villainous supporting roles as the '60s progressed, in films like The Third Day (1965) and The President's Analyst (1967). Considering himself washed up by 1967, Johnson accepted a slight salary cut to appear as a regular in a new NBC TV project called Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Within a year, Johnson was a bigger name than ever before, fracturing audiences with a seemingly inexhaustible variety of characterizations, ranging from his helmeted, chain-smoking German soldier ("Verrrrry interesting") to hirsute, overcoated dirty old man Tyrone Horneigh ("Wanna walnetto?"). In 1970, Johnson starred in his own TV special, spotlighting his "other selves," and in later years revived many of his Laugh-In characters in such summer-stock productions as Little Me. Though his popularity dipped dramatically following the cancellation of Laugh-In in 1973, Johnson has never wanted for work, be it such movies as Love at First Bite (1979, in which Johnson played Dracula's number one toady Renfield) or such TV series as The Love Boat, Fame, Glitter and Games People Play. He also provided the voice for his "Tyrone" character in the 1977 Saturday morning animated weekly Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. In 1996, Arte Johnson was reunited with several of his Laugh-In colleagues on an episode of the TV sitcom Mad About You.

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