Ruth Buzzi

Active - 1969 - 2009  |   Born - Jul 24, 1936 in Westerly, Rhode Island, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family, Horror

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Though most of Ruth Buzzi's official biographies list her birthplace as Westerly, RI, she herself was fond of claiming that she was born in Wequetequock, CT, perhaps because it sounded funnier. Whatever the case, Buzzi was the daughter of an immigrant Italian stone sculptor who specialized in cemetery monuments. After attending dancing school, 17-year-old Buzzi studied for an acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse. A well-established West Coast character actress by 1959, Buzzi came to Broadway to appear in the short-lived revue Misguided Tour; it was here that she created the first of her many memorable "alter egos," half-witted magician's assistant Shakuntula. It was while playing the woebegone Agnes Gooch in a 1961 stock-company production of Auntie Mame that Buzzi developed the character that would reach full maturity as the whining schlumper Gladys Ormphby. In 1965, she joined the cast of the CBS TV variety series The Entertainers, and that same year provided the voice of Granny Goodwich on the Linus the Lionhearted cartoon weekly. She went to make recurring appearances on That Girl and the 1967 Steve Allen Comedy Hour; and in January of 1968, she began a seven-year hitch on the immensely popular Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Together with Laugh-In co-star Arte Johnson, Buzzi provided the voice for her cartoon likeness in the 1977 Saturday morning animated series Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. Under the aegis of Sid and Marty Krofft, Buzzi starred on the weekend kiddie shows Far Out Space Nuts (1975) and The Krofft Supershow (1976). On the big screen, Ruth Buzzi has been seen in such Disney fare as Freaky Friday (1977), The North Avenue Irregulars (1978), and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).

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  • Studied acting as a teenager alongside classmates Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman at the Pasadena Playhouse in California.
  • Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1971 for her stage and screen work.
  • Appeared alongside Sesame Street's Gordon (Roscoe Orman) and Big Bird (Caroll Spinney) in 1999 to accept the first annual TV GUIDE Award for Best Children's Show.
  • Was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters' Television Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002 for her work on the iconic sketch-comedy series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
  • Is an animal lover and an active supporter for animal rights, and has raised funds for the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in Medina, Texas.
  • As an active member of Twitter, she posts almost daily and had more than 30,000 followers as of October 2012.