Henry Gibson


Henry Gibson (September 21, 1935 – September 14, 2009[1]) was best known as a cast member of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

Gibson was born James Bateman in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Dorothy (née Cassidy) and Edmund Albert Bateman. He attended Saint Joseph's Preparatory School, where he was President of the Drama Club.

Graduating from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer. After his discharge, he developed an act in which he portrayed a Southern accented poet. His stage name was a play on dramatist Henrik Ibsen, and he often pronounced his name as if it were "Ibsen", particularly when performing as "The Poet".
Gibson spent three years as part of the Laugh-In television show's cast. He often played "The Poet," reciting poems with "sharp satirical or political themes". Gibson would emerge from behind a stage flat, wearing a Nehru jacket and "hippie" beads and holding an outlandishly large artificial flower. He would state the "[Title of poem] — by Henry Gibson", bow stiffly from the waist, recite his poem, and return behind the flat. Gibson's routine was so memorable that John Wayne actually performed it once in his own inimitable style: "The Sky — by John Wayne. The Sky is blue/The Grass is green/Get off your butt/And join the Marines!", whereupon Wayne left the scene by smashing through the flat. Gibson also regularly appeared in the "Cocktail Party" segments as a Catholic priest, sipping tea. He would put the cup on the saucer, recite his one-liner in a grave and somber tone, then go back to sipping tea. He also made recurring appearances in the 1969-1974 anthology Love, American Style.

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