Comic actor Henry Gibson, whose film career spanned four decades, died Monday, September 13, 2009, at his home in Malibu, California it was announced earlier today. He was 73.
After making his breakthrough in the late 60s comedy series Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In, Gibson carved out a career in numerous comic supporting roles in both television and films. Although his first screen appearance was in the Jerry Lewis comedy The Nutty Professor (1963), Gibson’s first important role didn’t come for another decade when director Robert Altman cast him as the evil Dr. Verringer in The Long Goodbye, a rare dramatic role. Gibson would appear in three more films for Altman. For the directors 1975 Academy Award-winning Nashville, Gibson played the obnoxious country music star Haven Hamilton. Gibson also wrote all of his character’s songs.
Despite his short stature, Gibson frequently played quiet yet comically menacing-types. In John Landis’ 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers, he played the head of a group of Illinois Nazis chasing after John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s titular musicians. (Gibson had previously worked with Landis on the sketch film Kentucky Fried Movie (1977).) He had more villainous turns in films like The ‘Burbs and Innerspace. Other film appearances include Gremlins 2, Magnolia, Wedding Crashers and Big Stan.