Pat Paulsen

Active - 1968 - 1992  |   Born - Jul 6, 1927   |   Died - Apr 24, 1997   |   Genres - Comedy, Music, Science Fiction

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Biography by AllMovie

Every Presidential election from the end of Lyndon B. Johnson's terms to the beginning of Bill Clinton's second, the country could count on one thing: Comedian Pat Paulsen would run for office. Like certain real candidates, Paulsen peppered his speeches with meaningless falderal and brouhaha, his takes on the days' issues were short and pithy. When asked about the health care problem, Paulsen replied, "I don't think we need to care for healthy people." On the burgeoning national debt, he said, "Let the kids pay it: They still owe us rent and gas money."

Paulsen was born in South Bend, WA, but moved with his family to Point Bonita in northern California where his father was stationed with the Coast Guard. Following his high school gradation, Paulsen served with the Marines during WWII, guarding Japanese prisoners in China following the A-bombing of Japan. Upon his discharge, Paulsen took various odd jobs until enrolling in San Francisco City College to study forestry. He was not there long before he discovered acting and enrolled in drama classes and appeared in college productions. Paulsen embarked on various comic enterprises with his brother, Lorin. During the '60s, the two went separate ways and Paulsen found success writing and performing comical folk songs and doing standup on the coffeehouse circuit. It was fellow funny folk artists, the Smothers Brothers, who provided Paulsen with his break into modest fame. Paulsen sold them one or two songs. In 1967, when the brothers launched their groundbreaking Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, they made a place for Paulsen, who would comment on newsworthy topics and issues. The following year, Paulsen won an Emmy for his shtick. It was the Smothers who suggested Paulsen launch a satirical presidential campaign. Paulsen made his feature-film debut in Hymn Averback's Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968). His subsequent film appearances were rare. Though he never actually won any real-life elections, Paulsen did get to play the president in Bloodsuckers From Outerspace (1986). Following the end of the Smothers Brothers program, Paulsen became a popular nightclub act and performed at conventions and in theaters. For years he annually trekked to Muskegon, MI, to produce and star in plays at the Cherry County Playhouse. Paulsen died in April 1997, in Mexico of pneumonia and kidney failure. In the mid-'90s, he received the International Platform Association's coveted Mark Twain Award for his outstanding contributions to topical humor.

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