Gary Owens: The Voice of ‘Laugh-In’ Signs Off

When longtime Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens died Feb. 13, one of the great voices of the past century was stilled. I was lucky enough to interview Gary in September 2009 about a new documentary featuring his friend Jonathan Winters. Instantly recognizable from his first “hello,” Gary took me on a roller coaster ride of rapid-fire anecdotes, drawing on his 60-some-odd years in show business. From hosting The Gong Show to buying a Quincy Jones album for 11-year-old Michael Jackson, it’s …

Robin Williams: Our Funny, Troubled Cousin

The report that Robin Williams had died on Aug. 11 of an apparent suicide by asphyxiation came like that dreaded phone call, the bad news regarding a friend or relative about whom you’ve long feared the worst. >> Robin Williams’ 10 Unforgettable Roles If celebrities have become something of an extended family to us, Robin was the cousin we instinctively worried about. We knew of his cocaine addiction in the 1980s; about his hospitalization for alcoholism in 2006. And although we never heard much …

Jonathan Winters: His 5 Most Memorable Characters

“If Jonathan Winters ever gets accused of anything, he’s got the perfect alibi,” Tonight Show host Jack Paar once joked. “He was someone else at the time.” Winters, who died on April 11 at age 87 in Montecito, Calif., was capable of conjuring up a seemingly limitless number of personalities, each accompanied by a cacophony of sound effects and unlikely facial contortions. In a 1999 PBS interview, Winters recalled that as an only child in Ohio, he sat alone in …