Alan Sues, Stage Actor Who Found Fame on "Laugh-In," Dies

Obituaries   Alan Sues, Stage Actor Who Found Fame on "Laugh-In," Dies
Alan Sues, who found fame in the late '60s for his zany performances on the free-form television comedy "Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In," died Dec. 1 in his home in Los Angeles. He was 85.

Alan Sues
Alan Sues

Mr. Sues was part of the in-house crew of cut-ups that soared to fame when "Laugh-In," the extemporaneous, stream-of-consciousness sketch show, caught a cultural wave and rode it not only to success but societal relevance. Among his colleagues were Goldie Hawn, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Jo Anne Worley, Lily Tomlin. Even among that group, Mr. Sues was known for his over-the-top, kooky antics. His characters included Uncle Al the Kiddies' Pal, a children's entertainer who routinely hit the bottle. His characters often took on exaggeratedly effeminate behaviors, e.g.—the man who ordered a frozen daiquiri in a tough Wild West bar.

Mr. Sues made his Broadway debut in the hit 1953 stage play Tea and Sympathy, which was directed by Elia Kazan. In 1966, he appeared with future "Laugh-In" colleague Jo Anne Worley in the Off-Broadway hit musical revue "The Mad Show." Producer George Schlatter noticed his work and cast him in Edie Adams’ Las Vegas act and later "Laugh-In."

Following his success on "Laugh-In," Mr. Sues was typecast as a crazy comic. But he did find some critical success playing Prof. Moriarty in the 1974 Broadway production of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In the 1990s, he portrayed the elocution teacher in a touring production of Singin' in the Rain. In 1998, he appeared in a one-man show called Two for the Show.

He was born on March 7, 1926, in Ross, CA, to Peter and Alice Murray Sues. He moved often, as his father raised racehorses. Mr. Sues served in the Army in WWII, and used his veterans’ benefits to pay for acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Though Mr. Sues was gay, he was at one time married to Phyllis Gehrig, a dancer and actress. They divorced in 1958. In a New York Times obituary for Mr. Sues, friend and administrator Michael Michaud said the actor's appearances on "Laugh-In" "were an inspiration to many viewers when they were young, as he was the only gay man they could see on television at the time."

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