Laugh-In: The Comedy of Ruth Buzzi
By Dexter Yarbrough. Undoubtedly, we all have our lists of bests: best cars, best hotels, best places to live, etc. When it comes to all time best comediennes, Ruth Buzzi is certainly on my top ten list. Some of the newer comediennes of today, Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Chandler and the like are funny. But, in my opinion, none of them come close to the likes of Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Vicki Lawrence and Ruth Buzzi.
Ruth Buzzi was born at Westerly Hospital in Westerly, Rhode Island on July 24, 1936. She was raised in Connecticut. Growing up, she studied voice, dance and acting as well as cosmetology in case acting failed as an occupation. At the age of seventeen, she moved west and enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse for the Performing Arts and graduated with honors. Her classmates included Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman.
She moved to New York after graduation and was immediately hired in an off-Broadway musical revue. During this time in her career, she worked with performers including Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers and Carol Burnett. Her first national exposure came when she teamed with Dom DeLuise in a comical magical act in which he played an incompetent magician and Ruth was his sidekick named "Shakuntala." Her comedy career took off from here.
Ruth Buzzi became popular on TV shows including The Steve Allen Show, The Garry Moore Show, The Entertainers and That Girl as Marlo Thomas' friend.
However, Ruth became most popular on the new NBC show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. She was the only featured player to appear in every episode of Laugh-In including the initial pilot for the show.
Among her recurring characters on Laugh-In were Busy-Buzzi, a Hollywood gossip columnist and Doris Sidebottom, a cocktail-lounge visitor who always got drunk with husband Leonard (Dick Martin). She often played old women, drunks Southern belles and flashy hookers.
Her most famous character is the spinster Gladys Ormphby. Gladys was always dressed in brown, drab clothing with her hair in a bun covered by a visible hairnet knotted in the middle of her forehead. She would use her purse to antagonize and beat anyone who incurred her wrath. Now this is comedy! Absolutely hilarious!
On Laugh-In, Gladys was often the unwilling object of the advances of actor Arte Johnson's character Tyrone F. Horneigh, a "dirty old man." Please take a look below!
Gladys and Horneigh
For me, Ruth Buzzi, as Gladys, was at her funniest when she was featured on the Dean Martin Roasts that were held at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. Dean Martin said that she was the funniest woman he ever worked with.
It was really funny to see Gladys going after Dean Martin especially, but the other guests as well, to the pleasure of the viewing audiences. To this very day, I still roar with laughter when I see the exchanges between Ruth and Dean Martin, who was quite funny himself and sometimes inebriated during his "Roasts." Take a look at the following short videos.
Gladys, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
Gladys, Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart
After Laugh-In and the Dean Martin Roasts, Ruth starred in a myriad of TV shows including Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Saved by the Bell. She also had featured roles in more than twenty movies including Freaky Friday and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again as well as a number of westerns for the European market known as the Lucky Luke series.
Ruth Buzzi has earned numerous awards during her career including the coveted Golden Globe Award for her work on Laugh-In. Currently, she lives on a ranch in Forth Worth, Texas with her husband. Among her hobbies is oil painting and automobile collecting with her husband. She supports numerous children's charities and is an active fundraiser for animal causes.
Many of the comediennes of today are funny. But none come close to the clean, hilarious humor of the legendary Ruth Buzzi!
Copyright © 2012 Dexter Yarbrough. All Rights Reserved.
Gladys and Dean Martin
Gladys, Dean Martin and Ralph Nader
Ruth Buzzi - Your Thoughts?
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