Great comedy has always been a stalwart of television, and though each era thinks that it's the only one to have enjoyed comic brilliance, audiences have never suffered from a dearth of laughter. In the 1960s as the older comedians -- Benny, Hope, Lucy among other -- were winding down their TV efforts, there was a resurgence of variety shows starring singers and just before that a show came around that changed the face of American TV comedy.
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In premiered in September of 1967 and for the next over 130 episodes American comedy was never the same. U.S. audiences had probably never seen anything quite like it -- it was cheeky, sexy, and lightning fast, featuring an ensemble cast of comedians headed by comics Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. One of the people making Laugh-In so laugh-filled was actress/singer/comedienne Ruth Buzzi who is celebrating a birthday today. The East Coast-born Buzzi started out as an energetic high school cheerleader whose natural ebullience propelled her into show business where her multiple talents and boundless comedic gifts were soon in demand.
After studying at the Pasadena Playhouse and co-starring in stage and musical engagements across the country, she began to make a name for herself in TV variety shows, eventually leading to her career-making work on Laugh-In. (Footage of Ruth Buzzi's act with Don DeLuise from a variety show -- probably The Entertainers -- introed by John Davidson is available here.) She also starred on The Steve Allen Comedy Hour and you can see the beginnings of her famous Laugh-In Glady Ormphby character in this intro sequence:
A little of her comedic virtuosity on Laugh-In:
Ruth Buzzi was a frequent guest on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour and on his celebrity roasts:
Ruth also made several guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show during the early 1970s:
She lent her comic gifts to The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour:
Guesting on Tony Orlando and Dawn:
Ruth Buzzi guests on The Muppet Show in 1976:
Ruth co-starred with Jim Nabors in the Saturday morning kid show The Last Saucer in '76:
Ruth recorded a song which made it onto the charts:
From the TV movie Once Upon a Brothers Grimm in 1978:
The Donny and Marie Show from February 1976: