×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gary Owens, Announcer of ‘Laugh-In’ Fame, Dies at 80

Radio, TV and voiceover performer Gary Owens died on Feb. 12 at his home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles. Owens, who was 80, had been a diabetic since the age of 8.

Owens was probably best known as the announcer on NBC’s “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” (1968-73), with his trademark hand-over-the-ear announcing style. On the show, John Wayne once imitated Owens announcing. The phrase Owens created on his KMPC radio show, “Beautiful downtown Burbank,” later became a nightly catchphrase on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”

Owens also lent his voice to more than 3,000 cartoons, providing the voice of “Space Ghost” as well as Blue Falcon, Roger Ramjet, Powdered Toast Man and even Batman. He was animated as himself in “Garfield and Friends,” “The Fantastic Four,” “Eek the Cat” and “Bobby’s World.”

Owens had a mellifluous baritone voice with impeccable nuanced timing, and was equally adept at comedy or deadpan delivery.

For 30 years, Owens hosted a national radio show on the Music of Your Life Network. He was a longtime radio personality at KMPC, KFI, KIIS FM, KFWB and KKGO in Los Angeles and KEWB in San Francisco.

He also collaborated with his friend Jonathan Winters, together creating three hit comedy CDs. He wrote for Jay Ward’s company for the series “Rocky & Bullwinkle,” “Fractured Flickers” and “The Nuthouse.”

Owens’ daily radio show aired on KMPC Los Angeles for 20 years and he later served as VP of Gene Autry’s Golden West Broadcasters. In 1983 he became a vice president at Gannett, then the USA’s biggest media corporation.

Owens started as a radio newscaster in Mitchell, South Dakota. When he arrived in Hollywood in 1961 for KFWB, he also began his TV career, doing four television specials a year for the Chris-Craft Corp. and their television station KCOP.

Since its inception in 1969, he was an announcer on “Sesame Street”; he was also one of the original contributors to PBS series “The Electric Company.”

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Arleta, and sons Scott Owens, a producer, and Chris Dane Owens, a musician and producer.

Donations may be made to the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

 

More TV

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

  • superstore renewed season 3

    'Superstore' Showrunner Justin Spitzer Steps Down as He, Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green Renew Overall Deals at UTV

    “Superstore” executive producers Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have all renewed their overall deals with Universal Television. In addition, Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties on “Superstore” while Spitzer — who also created the series — will shift to develop new projects for the studio beginning with the 2019-2020 season. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content