Comedian Louis Nye, who created a national catchphrase belting out “Hi Ho, Steverino” as one of the stock players on Steve Allen’s groundbreaking 1950s TV show, died Oct. 9 in Los Angeles of lung cancer. He was 92.
He had continued to work regularly in nightclubs and on television until only a couple of years ago,appearing in the HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as the father of Jeff Garlin’s character from 2000 to 2002.
When he joined Allen’s show in 1956 he was already well established as one of the era’s most “hep” comedians, appearing regularly on radio, in clubs and on early TV shows.
A master of voices and accents, he could go from being droll one moment to prissy the next. He could also switch effortlessly from comically evil Nazis to bumbling Russians.
Born in Hartford, Conn., he began his career in theater before moving to New York City to enter radio.
On “The Steve Allen Show,” which ran until 1961 under various names, he quickly endeared himself to audiences as Gordon Hathaway, the effete, country-club snob who would welcome Allen’s arrival with the “Hi, ho, Steverino!” salutation.
After the show’s run ended, Nye appeared often on TV game shows, in films and as a regular on “The Ann Sothern Show.” He was often cast as the second banana, never the lead.
Nye played dentist Delbert Gray during the 1960-61 season of Sothern’s show and appeared as Sonny Drysdale, the prissy son of harried banker Milburn Drysdale, during “The Beverly Hillbillies”‘ first season. He once said his character was dropped after one season because a network executive thought he was “too sissified.” Nonetheless, he was back as Sonny for the 1993 TV movie “The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies” and appeared in the 2001 documentary “The Beverly Hillbillies: The E True Hollywood Story.”
He teamed with Allen again in 1967, on “The Steve Allen Comedy Hour,” a CBS variety show in which he also portrayed Gordon Hathaway. His cohorts that time included Allen’s wife, Jayne Meadows, Ruth Buzzi and John Byner, among others.
In the summer of 1970 he hosted the variety show “Happy Days” on CBS and three years later co-starred with Norman Fell in the New York garment industry sitcom “Needles and Pins.” He played Kirby Baker in the 1978 TV show “Harper Valley P.T.A.”
He was a celebrity panelist on the late ’70s syndicated comedy “The $1.98 Beauty Show.”
In the 1980s and ’90s he provided various voices for the “Inspector Gadget” cartoon show.
His film credits included “Cannonball Run II,” “Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood,” “A Guide for the Married Man,” “Good Neighbor, Sam” and “Sex Kittens Go to College.”
He also guest starred in such shows as “St. Elsewhere,” “The Love Boat,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “The Munsters” and appeared frequently as a guest on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “The Andy Williams Show.”
He is survived by a son.