Henry Gibson, a wry comic character actor whose career included "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," "Nashville" and "Boston Legal," died Monday at his home in Malibu after a brief battle with cancer. He was 73.
Gibson's breakthrough came in 1968 when he was cast as a member of the original ensemble of NBC's top-rated "Laugh-In," on which he performed for three seasons. Each week, a giant flower in his hand, he recited a signature poem, introducing them with the catchphrase that became his signature: "A Poem, by Henry Gibson."
The poems proved so popular that they led to the release of two comedy albums, "The Alligator" and "The Grass Menagerie," as well as a book, "A Flower Child's Garden of Verses."
After "Laugh-In," he played the evil Dr. Verringer in "The Long Goodbye" (1973), the first of four films in which he appeared for director Robert Altman. Their second collaboration came in "Nashville" (1975) in which Gibson earned a Golden Globe nomination and National Society of Film Critics award for his performance as country singer Haven Hamilton. He also wrote his character's songs.
In television, recent notable work included a five-season stint as cantankerous Judge Clarence Brown on "Boston Legal" and multiple episodes as the voice of sardonic, eye-patched newspaperman Bob Jenkins on the animated "King of the Hill."
Gibson is survived by three sons, Jon, a business affairs executive at Universal Pictures; Charles, a director and two-time Academy Award winning visual effects supervisor; James, a screenwriter, and two grandchildren, Matthew and Miranda.
Memorial services are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Friends of the Malibu Public Library.
– Nielsen Business Media