Last updated: 11:00 PM BST 25/05/2008
Wisecracking co-star of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In whose humour caught the zeitgeist of the late 1960s.
Dick Martin, who died on Saturday aged 86, was the zany half of the American comedy duo Rowan and Martin and co-star of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which became a cult comedy fixture on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Screened in Britain on BBC2, the show made stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and created such catchphrases as "Sock it to me!", "Here come de judge" and (Martin's own gnomic rejoinder) "You bet your sweet bippy".
After splitting with his partner Dan Rowan in the late 1970s, Martin went on to become one of American television's busiest directors.
Laugh-In, which was launched in January 1968, was unlike any comedy-variety show before it: rather than relying on tightly scripted song-and-dance segments, it offered a kaleidoscopic, almost stream-of-consciousness series of non sequitur jokes, political satire and wacky antics from a cast of talented young actors and comedians that included Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley, the British-born Judy Carne and the ear-cupping announcer Gary Owens.
Presiding over it all were Rowan and Martin, two veteran nightclub comics who put their own distinctive spin on the show. Their stand-up banter satirising the contemporary scene seemed to catch the liberated mood of the times.
Martin played the clown to Dan Rowan who, like all straight men, provided the voice of reason, striving to correct his partner's absurdities. Martin, meanwhile, was full of bogus, often risqué theories about life, to which he appeared to cling with unwavering certainty.
Around the sober-suited Rowan and Martin whirled a madhouse of stock characters, whose pop-up appearances and much-quoted catchphrases were redolent of the ITMA radio routines of wartime Britain.
The weekly galère included Lily Tomlin's nasal-toned switchboard girl; Arte Johnson's German soldier peering over a pot plant to observe: "Verrry interrrestink"; Goldie Hawn's giggling blonde; and Ruth Buzzi's umbrella-wielding old woman.
"We designed it so that we are two relatively normal guys wandering through a sea of madness," Martin explained. Each week Rowan and Martin would award their Flying Fickle Finger of Fate, host a gag-laden cocktail party and close each show with the programme's joke wall.
Richard Martin was born into a middle-class family on January 30 1922 at Battle Creek, Michigan. After leaving high school he elected to work at a Ford car assembly plant before making his way to Hollywood in 1943. While attempting to break into showbusiness, he earned his living as a bartender.
He was working in a cocktail lounge at Studio City, California, in 1952 when a mutual friend introduced him to Dan Rowan, a 30-year-old car salesman who was also trying to break into comedy. Within a fortnight they were appearing without pay at a supper club in Los Angeles with Rowan as straight man and Martin as his flippant partner.
In their first routine – which they kept in their act for years – Martin (the drunk) heckled Rowan (the Shakespearean actor) as he declaimed from Hamlet.
Once established on the American nightclub circuit, the pair signed a seven-year contract with NBC Television in 1957, only to cancel it by mutual agreement three years later after appearing regularly as hosts on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
In 1958 they starred in a feature film, Once Upon A Horse, but it flopped; and in 1962 Martin worked solo, appearing as Lucille Ball's boyfriend in her comeback situation comedy series The Lucy Show.
After Martin had rejoined Rowan on the nightclub circuit, in late 1967 NBC cautiously allowed the pair to film a "total comedy" pilot for Laugh-In, contracting them for a weekly series the following January. By the eighth show it was top of the ratings.
Much of the programme's success was down to the team of scriptwriters, whose jokes about gays, drugs and death were considered daring for 1968, especially by strait-laced Americans.
Martin remained unabashed at the show's frequent references to sex, explaining that his on-air persona – that of "a kind of inept lech" – made it possible for audiences to laugh at him rather than at what he said.
When Laugh-In was cancelled in 1973, Dick Martin pursued a new career as a director of television comedy, starting with The Bob Newhart Show in 1976. Later he was chief director of the 1980s sitcom Newhart.
At the height of his fame Martin (who was by then divorced from his first wife, Peggy Connelly) pursued a sybaritic lifestyle, throwing wild parties at his apartment in the hills above Sunset Strip. This existence was quite unlike that of Rowan, a quiet family man who died in 1987.
After his failed first marriage, Dick Martin married, in 1971, Dolly Read, a former bunny girl at the Playboy Club in London. They divorced in 1975 but remarried in 1978. She survives him with two sons of his first marriage.
Story from Telegraph News:
Beth Sestanovich, publisher of LA Weekly, said that the new offices, which will feature prominent LA Weekly signage, are a significant upgrade from the newspaper’s current digs at 6715 Sunset Blvd.
“It is dated and old and it is a very difficult layout and as a result there is a lot of unusable space,” said Sestanovich. The newspaper has been at the Hollywood offices for about 15 years.
The new building is located in Culver City, just south of Venice Boulevard. The property backs up to the freeway, affording the newspaper signage that faces the freeway.
“It is a highly identifiable building on the 405 and it is an excellent opportunity,” said Blake Mirkin of CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., who represented the landlord. Mirkin said the building was on the market “for some time” because of its challenging location on the edge of two office submarkets.
Considering how many commutes will drastically change, not to mention after-work hangout habits — is this the end of LA Weekly bashes at Boardner's? — you have to wonder if it's Mike Lacey's revenge on the Weekly's pre-New Times staff. Lacey is known to prefer the Westside when he visits the L.A. outpost of his Village Voice Media empire
April 30, 2008 8:09 AM
While many Angelenos know little about the big plans to build a 40-story skyscraper and a 14-story office tower on the site of the old CBS TV-and-radio complex at Sunset and Gower--it is currently being showcased on MTV as the fancy digs for the cast of the "Real World"--Molasky Pacific, the acknowledged day-to-day operator of the development project still working its way through City Hall, has been quietly seeking a major height limit change, among other things, for the studio lot since it delivered its approval application to the city's Planning Department in March, 2007. The firm and Apollo Real Estate Advisors bought the property in 2006 for a reported $66 million, and they have yet to release an "environmental impact report," which details traffic and environmental impacts on the surrounding neighborhood and what the developer wants from the city.
City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents the 13th District, where the project has been proposed, was informed last week on April 22. Staffers received a phone call from Molasky Pacific in the late morning, while Garcetti was presiding over a City Council meeting. He later released this statement to the LA Weekly: "No matter who is the owner or developer of this project, I have the same concern: how is this going to impact the community, the environment, and traffic?"
Sounds good, but this Thursday the Weekly will publish an investigative story on how the reportedly $850-million project, the largest and most expensive in Hollywood to date, has moved through City Hall in a stealth-like way, with Garcetti and his staffers working closely with the developers and offering little information to the public he claims to care so much about.
The Burning Of Los Angeles: Magical Mystery Fire Destroys Another Protected Landmark Which Recently Changed Hands!
The lesson is...If you are a legally protected building with Historical Significance, and a developer with stars in their eyes buys you, you could soon be hearing the words of the Wicked Witch Of The West ringing from your storied walls at 4:30 in the morning...."Have a little FIRE, Scarecrow!"
This week the 1933 Carl Laemmle Building, the only building on Hollywood Boulevard designed by Richard Neutra, and with interiors by S. Charles Lee, became the latest in the long list of neighborhood Historical Treasures to vanish in a holocaust of 40 foot flames, begun somewhere between midnight and 6 am, and "already FULLY involved before firefighters arrived on the scene," even though the fire station is but three blocks away. The old Cahuenga station had a look out tower 50 feet above Selma Avenue, so the firemen of yore could spot smoke anytime of the day or night, from Mount Lee to the Ambassador Hotel. Perhaps they should have moved it down the street when they built the new station.
So, we can add the Laemmle Building and the landmark business Dan-Dee Shoe Repair with its historic neon sign, to the ABC Radio Studios, The Little Country Church Of Hollywood, The Vine Street Brown Derby, the Hillview Apartments (lucky da 'hood was in the mood for condos when that got torched!), The Pan Pacific Auditorium, and portions of The Garden Court Apartments. All places that developers had been in some sort of snit about before spontaneously combusting. While I certainly can't SAY FOR SURE what happened in the case of the Laemmle building, it did just change hands, and you will note, it is the only corner of the four at Hollywood and Vine, that is not a Condo Ready High Rise. Nope. It was one story and it was going to have to stay that way. Unlessssss......
One of our brave Councilmen, See No Evil Hear No Evil Never Call The D.A. Over Gangster Developers La Bonge, arrived on the scene to assess the loss of this landmark. When reporters asked him about how important the famed building was, he immediately replied...."The LAND alone is worth MILLIONS!" Thanks Tom.
(To learn a great deal more about how things work in the neighborhood these days, I encourage you to follow the link below and read the article from The Hollywood Heritage Newsletter on Page 5 and learn how this....
........Turns into THIS......
.....And NO ONE gets held accountable for it!
May 2007, Volume 26. No. 1 (special color double issue) )
While most media reports have stated that the only thing of note that happened in the building since 1933 was that a scene was shot for a remake of Oceans 11, a production as overblown as La Bonge's sense of self awareness, the building did, in fact, house many important restaurants over the years, and for anyone who grew up or lived in the neighborhood prior to the "old days" death throes in of the early 1990's, it was full of cherished memories.
As I said in the beginning, it was designed by Richard Neutra, and what was REALLY fantastic was that the building one door over, Sardi's (now the porn shop) was designed by R.M Schindler. Not TOO many places in town where the two had buildings 20 paces apart. When the Pig n' Whistle at Las Palmas outgrew it's tiny space next to the Egyptian, in the late 30's, it expanded into the Laemmle building, and later changed its name to "Melody Lane" while remaining in the "Pig N' Whistle" Chain. With the name change, the big guns were called in and S. Charles Lee was hired to give the entire building a Moderne look.
In the late 1950's and 60's it was transformed into a family oriented coffee shop named "Hody's" which was legendary for it's gigantic "clown head" sign trellis. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me, I can't IMAGINE how it didn't frighten children and hippies. None the less, it was there for years.
This is where the irony gets REALLY thick. After they let squatters in to burn The Vine Street Brown Derby (that's an old developer trick...leave holes in the fences and back doors unlocked in an unwanted building, so when it goes up, you can blame punk squatters and junkies before the cameras, then collect your insurance money), and Grant had it bulldozed against court order (I mean, Grant REALLY REALLY needed another parking lot!), the Hollywood Brown Derby, relocated into the Laemmle Building, and went discount, hoping to attract the Lucy Ricardo Tourists, looking for their long de-camped Bill Holdens. It closed in 1993, leaving Musso's the last man standing.
It was closed for several years, then became an ENORMOUS tattoo parlor. Finally, around the turn of the century, things were looking up for the neighborhood, and the tattoo joint was shunted to one side, making room for a ridiculous club full of poseurs and wannabees, the sort who think OTHER poseurs and wannabees with clipboards and lists should be what gets you into a club, rather than a decent suit of cloths, proper shoe leather, and a generous tip to the maitre 'd, like it should be (and still is in NY).
I mean, the Bush girls partied there to celebrate turning 21 so they could get shitfaced "legal." Need I say more?
Then they shot part of a crappy remake there, then it burned, while the learned Councilmen stood on the corner fancying himself a real estate appraiser. I will admit, he did better as an apraiser evaluating the corner of Hollywood and Vine than he did as an Historian, once claiming before assembled news media that the land beneath the Hollywood Sign had been left in perpetuity to the City Of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith in 1911. It was in fact, privately owned and DONATED to the City in 1949, as anyone with even a cursory knowledge of neighborhood history knows...oh hell...THATS even in $2 tourist pamphlets sold to Iowans at World Book And News, on every Grey Line Tour, on The Chamber of Commerce website....tourists, and junkies walking out of the methadone clinic know that, if they've been in town more than two weeks! Tom had to shut up. I desperately with that THAT lesson had taken. (The Councilman is Pictured Here Announcing To A Shocked Local Press That His Name Is Jor-El As He Welcomes Them To His Newly Remodled Mansion On Mount Krypton)
Can't wait to see what goes up next in an early morning conflagration. Because the word is out. Fires "intentional" or "accidental" (in which case landlords should be held accountable for not having proper alarms and sprinkler systems!) and "accidental bulldozing without proper permits" (I'm certain they would have torched The Cocoanut Grove, if Boston hadn't already beat them to it) will go unpunished, by the Council, DA Cooley, Wilcox Station, the Fire Department (who is responsible for enforcing the fire code and inspecting the buildings, and doing arson investigations) and any other LA good old boy group that has visions of high rises dancing in their heads. Forget it Jake, it's Hollywood.
I'm actually glad our Dear Sainted Mayor of Hollywood is in a better place, and didn't have to look at smoke rising outside his window at the Roosevelt, yet again. And I hope where ever he is, he's as pissed as I am, and starts haunting some people who are hell bent on smashing up whats left of the neighborhood for those DREADFUL yuppies and their condos.
Capitol says recording quality at its Hollywood building is at risk
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
The developer who wants to put up a 16-story building next to the Capitol Records building has denied that the project would harm Capitol's reverberation equipment.
The music firm says a proposed high-rise next door would damage its unique underground echo chambers.
By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 23, 2008
No! No-o-o-o! No-o-o-o-o-o! That plea from Hollywood is reverberating through Los Angeles City Hall as officials try to decide whether a 16-story tower should be built next to the landmark Capitol Records building.
A Marina del Rey developer hopes to construct 93 condominiums, 13,442 square feet of commercial and office space and a 242-space underground parking lot next to the landmark, 13-floor, record-shaped building.
But Capitol executives are trying to stop the multimillion-dollar project because of fears that pile-driving and excavation for the three-level underground garage will damage one-of-a-kind, below-ground echo chambers that are used for high-end recordings.
The developer has denied that the project would harm the reverberation equipment and has pledged to try to limit noise and vibration during construction.
The famed echo chambers were designed by guitarist Les Paul and have been used by recording artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Chris Botti, Natalie Cole -- who just finished an album there -- and Brian Wilson, who used them last week.
EMI Music North America, which operates Capitol Records, has appealed the city's preliminary approval of the high-rise, which is proposed for the southwest corner of Yucca Street and Argyle Avenue. Until 2005 that was the site of the KFWB-AM (980) radio station.
"As a major employer in the Hollywood area, Capitol Records is extremely concerned about the viability of us being able to continue to run Capitol Studios in the face of the admittedly significant adverse impacts that will be caused by construction," said Maureen B. Schultz, a senior vice president at the recording company.
In a letter to City Council members, Schultz explained that the echo chambers are on the east side of the record company headquarters at the corner of Vine and Yucca streets. They are buried 18 feet from the proposed excavation site.
"We are not anti-development, and understand and support that Hollywood is changing and new development is part of that change," she said in the letter.
But "the sound in the studios is one that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. The echo chambers are as much a part of the Hollywood history as the Capitol Tower and the Hollywood sign."
The eight concrete chambers, built 30 feet underground, vary in shape to give different sounds. A speaker pipes music into one end of each chamber and a microphone picks up the reverberation at the other end.
Capitol employees say their three recording studios are booked by artists who know the Vine Street echo effect is something that cannot be duplicated electronically or at any other studio.
Although it is not part of EMI's appeal, record company workers and others in Hollywood also oppose the 16-floor tower because it would overshadow Capitol's iconic building by three stories and block views of the landmark from the nearby Hollywood Freeway.
The Capitol tower was designed by architect Welton Becket and finished in 1956. It was the world's first circular office building. Music fans immediately embraced its look, which resembled a stack of vinyl 45s on a record turntable. Its spire is said to blink out the name "Hollywood" in Morse code at night.
EMI's appeal of the project is one of two that have been filed. A separate objection has been lodged by Hollywood resident Jim McQuiston, who has lived for 48 years across the street from the tower site. He objects to it on seismic grounds.
"It would affect me when it falls over on me," McQuiston, a Caltech-trained engineer, said Tuesday. In papers filed with the city, he asserted that "the so-called Yucca strand of the Hollywood Fault poses an extreme hazard" to the condominium tower.
Developer David Jordan could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, a lawyer representing the project dismissed McQuiston's concerns.
"That seems, quite frankly, like an implausible scenario," Dale Goldsmith said of the tower toppling in an earthquake. "His apartment building would collapse before this one would. It would be built in accordance of latest earthquake standards."
As far as Capitol Records' echo chambers are concerned, Goldsmith pledged that they will be safe during construction.
"We're confident there won't be any long-term damage," he said. "We're prepared to indemnify them. They have a right to be concerned, but their concerns are exaggerated."
Steps will be taken to limit vibration and noise, he said. "There are a series of mitigation measures to be taken during construction. Muffling devices, dewatering techniques, taking noise-generating equipment as far away as possible from Capitol," Goldsmith said.
An acoustical study done for Jordan by an Oakland firm acknowledged that "without the mitigation . . . ground-borne noise from construction activities may temporarily impact operation of the echo chambers."
But it suggested that "digital signal processing and other digital audio recording techniques can simulate almost every echo chamber effect."
Capitol officials plan to refute that when the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee reviews their appeal May 13. The entire council is expected to take up the issue May 27, committee Chairman Ed Reyes said Tuesday.
Digital reverberation can't compare with a real echo chamber, Capitol recording experts say. That's a claim they've shot down over and over and over again.