According to a family representative, there won't be any public service held and his ashes will be taken to his "home away from home in Hawaii."
Arte Johnson, the legendary sketch comedian best known for his Emmy-winning NBC show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In passed away on Wednesday. According to CNN, the master of sketch died of heart failure, at a hospital in Los Angeles. Johnson was 90 years old. This heartbreaking news surfaced after the family released a statement that read, "On behalf of Gisela Johnson and the Johnson family, we are informing you that Emmy-winning comedic actor Arte Johnson has passed at 1:45 a.m., July 3, 2019."
The statement further read: "There are no services planned. His ashes will be taken to his home away from home in Hawaii, where a private ceremony will be held." After fighting the battle against bladder and prostate cancer for three years, the actor finally succumbed to the illness on July 3. Born in Michigan, the comedian attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He also worked at the radio station situated on campus and at the UI Theater Guild. After graduating in 1949, he started his acting career on Broadway.
Things seemed to get brighter when he moved to Los Angeles and landed roles in popular shows like Make Room for Daddy and Bewitched. Despite many different roles played by him, people will always remember him for his remarkable performance in the cheeky 1968 series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In which unexpectedly became a massive hit. He was in the series for four seasons. Although the show consisted of several accomplished performers, Johnson stood out from the rest. His role as a German soldier called Wolfgang will be forever immortalized.
The catchphrase "Verrrry interesting..." will be etched in our memory! After watching Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan in their 1942 film Desperate Journey, he was inspired to create the popular character named Wolfgang according to The Hollywood Reporter. Of course, Wolfgang stirred up a kind of laughter like no other but let's not forget his portrayal of Tyrone Horneigh, a dirty old man, who kept propositioning Ruth Buzzi’s character who happened to be a spinster. He was so good in his role that often his co-stars would have a tough time keeping a straight face.
In the recent Netflix Laugh-In tribute, guest star Don Rickles begged Johnson to "give me a break" because he was making him laugh too hard! Although the funnyman performed on Laugh-In for only four seasons, he won an Emmy in 1969. In addition, Johnson made appearances in sitcoms like It’s Always Jan, The Danny Thomas Show, and I Dream of Jeannie. He also worked on various other shows like Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theater and The Red Skelton Show.
Johnson also acted in one of the episodes of the surreal anthology series The Twilight Zone and played the crucial role of Renfield, Dracula's servant, in the 1979 comedy Love at First Bite. During Laugh-In's 50th anniversary interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer George Schlatter revealed he was looking for "funny and magic people" and he happened to stumble upon Johnson who was "selling suits" at the time. Schlatter further mentioned how Johnson first played the character of a German soldier alongside Bob Hope. Improvising on the famous comic's work he said, "'Every Christmas we waited for you.' Hope didn't know what to think of him."
He also guest starred on General Hospital and was also seen on the popular game shows like The Match Game and The Gong Show. And if his acting skills weren't enough, he gave the world a taste of his incomparable voice-over work for cartoons in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. Although he mostly took up television roles, he did work his magic on movies like The Subterraneans and The President's Analyst. He has achieved a lot in his lifetime, from being a regular on Love, American Style to participating in dramas like Fantasy Island and The Dukes of Hazzard he's done it all! However, nothing can compare Johnson's love for comedy.
The comic actor was best known for his appearances on the 1960s variety show "Laugh-In." https://t.co/nuW0oSzqHG— HuffPost (@HuffPost) July 3, 2019
In 1974 he said, "Humor for me consists in incongruity. If I were doing a Hasidic rabbi, I'd have him speak with an Irish accent. … You take it out of reality and make it cartoon-esque without being denigrating. Because people today are so sensitive, it's the only way of creating humor without offending someone."
His costar Ruth Buzzi shared a touching message for him on Twitter. She wrote: Thank you for a wonderful half-century of friendship. I could not have shared the spotlight with a nicer guy. Rest in peace. And yes, Arte Johnson, I believe in the hereafter... She was referring to the show, where Arte's character asks Ruth's character if she believed in the hereafter. Netizens, too, shared their condolences when they heard the sad news. This is what they had to say:
Verrry interesting. But sad— Gary Goldberg (@ggbergDC) July 3, 2019
I got to wait on Mr. Johnson when he visited the Big Island resort I worked on in the mid 1980s. He was very sweet and kind, but gave me his catchphrase: "Veeeeerryyy iiinterrrestiiing" when I took his order. It was adorable. RIP, sweet man.— Josephine Jones (@FancyPants30) July 4, 2019
RIP Arty. You were a great comedian.— Arlene Cohen (@ABCDAP) July 3, 2019
As a voice-over artist and morning DJ, one of my own cast of characters..."Dr. Bruce"...was inspired by the hilarious "Nazi" created by Arte Johnson. The man was a comic genius and inspired me to pursue voice acting & broadcasting as a career. God bless ya, Arte. 👍🏼❤️😢— Paul Fox (@PaulFox50854324) July 3, 2019
My wife & I met in 1981— Floyd Haas (@FunnyFloyd88) July 3, 2019
This picture is from our first Halloween together.
Everyone immediately recognized the old man character written by someone I'd later call a friend #ChrisBearde & played by the very talented #ArteJohnson
GODspeed and congrats on the long, full life ! pic.twitter.com/zmP0GUcaDu