Comedian Arte Johnson — best known for playing the dirty old man opposite Ruth Buzzi’s purse-hurling spinster on Laugh-In — is dead. He was 90.
The actor died July 3 in a Los Angeles hospital following a three-year battle with bladder and prostate cancer.
The Michigan-born funnyman developed a prolific resume in Hollywood, starting with appearances in old sitcoms like The Danny Thomas Show, It’s Always Jan, and I Dream of Jeannie to variety shows like The Red Skelton Show, Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theater, and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. From 1967 to 1971, Johnson was responsible for some of the variety show’s more memorable characters, like the German soldier who hissed “verrrrrrrryyy interesting” and the dirty old man who repeatedly tried to pick up on Gladys (Buzzi). He won an Emmy for his work on Laugh-In in 1969.
Johnson was also a regular on Love, American Style. He popped up in plenty of dramas like Kojak, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Fantasy Island but comedy was his lifelong jam.
Some of his last voiceover work occurred on Animaniacs. He played the delivery guy and a German dog.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Gisela, and a brother.