Legendary ‘Laugh-In’ Announcer Gary Owens Dead At 80

Gary Owens, who had one of the most memorable baritone voices in entertainment history and who used that voice in a myriad of different scenarios, ranging from being the announcer on the 1960s smash TV show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In to the voice of Space Ghost, died on Thursday, February 12, 2015, at his home in Los Angeles, CA, according to CNN. He was 80. The cause of death is complications of Type 2 Diabetes, a condition that the entertainer had had since he was a child.

Owens, with his distinctive look — mustachioed with glasses, almost like a Stan Lee in many ways — never seemed to take himself seriously with his fun, charming, and gregarious manner. Yet when his voice inflections boomed through the airwaves, he sounded like he was the most serious man in the room. Reading manically wacky one-liners and joke after joke on Laugh-In (which was a number one show for multiple seasons on NBC during the late 1960s) with a deadpan and instantly memorable style, Owens had the rare quality, like a Don Pardo, of an instantly recognizable voice, known by the masses coast-to-coast, yet not many people knew what he looked like. During Laugh-In, he was on camera for the most part, always appearing hilariously urgent in his verbal diction, hand cupped to ear and dressed in the manner of a respected newsman, usually with three-piece suits and an air of professionalism. It all acted as perfect counterpoint to the inanity Laugh-In presented.

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